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Vol. 12, No. 9, pp. 339-396 May 28, 1917 






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Vol. 1. 1. Life and Culture of the Hupa, by Pliny Earle Ooddard. Pp. 1-88; 

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2. Hupa Texts, by Pliny Earle Goddard. Pp. 89-368. March, 1904 _. S.OO 

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June, 1904 .....'. „ 26 

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Pp. 166-377. January, 1907 .._ _ _ _ 2.26 

Index, pp. 379-392. 
Vol. S. The Morphology of the Hupa Language, by PUny Earle Goddard. 

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Vol. 4. 1. The Earliest Historical Relations between Mexico and Japan, from 
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2. Contribution to the Physical Anthropology of California, based on col- 

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3. The Shoshonean Dialects of California, by A. L. Kroeber. Pp. 65-166- 

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4. Indian MyUis from South Central California, by A. L. Kroeber. Pp. 

167-250. May, 1907 78 

5. The Washo Language of East Central California and Nevada, by A. L. 

Kroeber. Pp. 251-318. September, 1907 _.. - - 76 

6. The Eeligion of the Indians of California, by A, L. Kroeber. Pp. 319- 

356. September, 1907 ..-...- — ^0 

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VoL 6. 1. The Phonology of the Hupa Language; Part L The Individual Sounds, 

by Pliny Earle Goddard, Pp. 1-20, plates 1-8. March, 1907 ..._. 36 

2. Navaho Myths, Prayers and Songs, with Texts and Translations, by 
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380. August, 1910 1.00 

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Vol. 6. 1. The Ethno-Geography of the Porno and Neighboring Indians, by Sam- 
uel Alfred Barrett. Pp. 1-332, maps 1-2. February, 1908 3.26 

2. The Geography and Dialects of the Miwok Indians, by Samuel Alfred 

Barrett. Pp. 333-368, map 3. 

3. On the Evidence of the Occupation of Certain Eegions by the Miwok 

Indians, by A. L. Kroeber. Pp. 369-380. Nos. 2 and 3 In ome cover. 

February, 1908 - - -- - - •*' 

Index, pp. 381-400. 

(Referred to in the text) 

Southern Yokuts, Yauelmani. 
Southern Yokuts, Yaudanchi. 
Central Miwok. 
Northern Paiute. 

Southeastern Wintun. 
Eastern Porno. 

14. Karok. 

15. Hupa. 

16. Wiyot. 

17. Chimariko. 

18. Costanoan. 

19. Salinan. 

20. Chumash. 




Vol. 12, No. 9, pp. 339-396 May 28, 1917 





Introductory 340 

Mohave 340 

General Features 347 

Luiseno 348 

General Features 351 

Yokuts 352 

Relations of Miwok and Yokuts 356 

Northern Paiute 358 

Marriage _ 361 

Washo „ 362 

Relations to Northern Paiute _ 363 

Relations to Other Systems 364 

Tiibatulabal and Kawaiisu _ 366 

Shoshonean Systems 366 

Wintun „ „ 368 

General Features 369 

Pomo , 370 

General Features and Relations 371 

Yuki „ 372 

General Features and Relations 373 

Yurok „ 374 

General Features 375 

Three-Step Relationship „ 376 

Classification of the California Systems 378 

Kinship and Type of Culture 380 

Kinship and Social Institutions 382 

Summary _ _ 385 

Theoretical Considerations 385 

340 University of California Publications in Am. Arch, and Etlin. [Vol. 12 


The following systems of relationship designation were collected 
at intervals during the last fifteen years, but mostly before 1908, in 
the course of various field studies of the California Indians. They 
are in most cases unsupported by genealogies or concrete records ; 
probably the majority of the lists are not wholly exhaustive ; and in 
a few instances the data may not be entirely correct. I have long 
hesitated to publish this material. But it happens to represent all 
ethnic provinces and parts of the state, except the northeastern corner, 
and therefore permits of distributional inferences ; and it furnishes a 
basis for the consideration of certain theoretical problems ; in addition 
to which, information on kinship in California has become a need in 
wider comparative studies. I therefore present the data, trusting 
that they will be of service in spite of their imperfections. 


The Mohave system is an elaborate one. It contains a considerable 
number of terms ; and the principles according to which these are 
applied are sometimes complex. N- or ny- denotes "my." A faint 
initial h-, of the same meaning, has been omitted from most words not 
beginning with n-. 

Parent Class 
N-aJcut-Tc, father of a male. 
N-a'ai-Tc, father of a female. 
N-tai-Tc, mother. 

H-uma-i-ch, man 's son. Compare humara, child. 
Vuchi, man's daughter. 
Ith'au, woman's son or daughter. 

Iki-ch-Jc, man 's stepfather ; reciprocally,i man 's stepson ; also, father 's mother 's 
brother, mother's mother's brother, and reciprocally a man's sister's child's 

1 Eeciprocity is logical or conceptual between terms that are complementary 
in meaning; as, Mohave namoilc, mother's younger sister, and inoiJc, woman's 
older sister's child. Reciprocity is verbal only in Zuiii nanna, grandfather and 
grandson, because the complementary concept to grandfather is not grandson 
but man's grandchild. Reciprocity is conceptual and verbal in Yokuts t'uta, 
mother's mother and woman's daughter's child. Reciprocity is conceptual and 
approximates verbal completeness in Luiseiio tu', mother's mother, and tu'-mai. 
woman's daughter's child, in which -mai is a diminutive. Terms which are 
conceptually and verbally reciprocal may be designated as self-reciprocal. 
Conceptual reciprocity without verbal identity is commonest between relatlv.'^s 
separated by one generation, most frequently in the uncle class, but also in the 
parent and parent-in-law groups. Verbal reciprocity, identical or derivative, 
is usual only between relatives that are of the same generation or separated by 
two or more generations, especially those in the grandparent and brother-in-law 

1917] Kroeber: California Kinship Systems 341. 

ehild; also a man's younger brother's son's son and a woman's younger sister's 
son's son; also a man's son's son's son, and father's father's father's father, 
that is, great-great-grandson and great -great-grandfather reciprocal in the male 
line. Iki-ch-k is a term used chiefly by males of males; it never denotes a 
person of one's own generation; and it always implies remote kinship — a lineal 
relative four generations distant, a collateral relative two generations away, or 
a man one generation removed who is not a blood relative at all. 

A man 's stepmother and a woman 's stepson are denoted by unyi, whose full 
range of meanings is given under terms of the parent-in-law class. What a 
woman calls her step-parents, or what either a man or a woman calls a stej*- 
daughter, I did not learn. 

Brother Class 

Inchien-k ; older brother; older sister; father's younger brother; woman's 
father's sister's son or mother's brother's son, that is, male cross-cousin of a 
woman; man's father's father's father's younger brother's son's son's son, 
that is, a man 's male third cousin in the pure male line of descent, sprung from 
the younger of two brothers; also, a man's son's son's son, that is, his great- 
grandson in the male line. The last two meanings are evidently connected, 
since third cousins are great-grandchildren of brothers. 

Isu-ich-k, younger brother; man's older brother's son (and daughter?); man's 
male third cousin in the male line, sprung from the older of a pair of brothers; 
father's father's father. In the last two senses isu-ich-k is reciprocal to 

Inya-k, younger sister; man's father's sister's daughter or mother's brother's 
daughter, that is, female cross-cousin of a man, reciprocal to the corresponding 
usage of inchien-k. 

Oyavakiau-k, man 's paternal half brother or half sister. 

Tav 'alyvi-k, man 's maternal half brother or half sister. 

If any separate terms for a woman's half brothers and sisters occur, they 
have not been recorded. 

Grandparent Class 

N-apau-k, father's father. 

N-akweu-k, mother's father. 

N-akau-k, mother's mother; also her sister. 

N-amau-k, father's mother; also her sister; also the father's father's sister. 
If the last meaning is not an error, the generic meaning of n-amau-k is: female 
relative of grandmother generation on the father's side. It might be inferred 
that n-akweu-k analogously denoted males two generations older on the mother's 
side; but the relationship of mother's mother's brother is expressed by iki-ch-k, 
whose primary meaning seems to be step-father. 

A 'ava-k, son 's child, and therefore reciprocal to n-apau-k and n-amau-k 
jointly; also, a woman's father's brother's son; man's father's brother's sou 
or daughter; woman's brother's or sister's son's child. 

classes, but occasionally between brothers and sisters also. The foregoing, at 
least, are the tendencies in California, with exceptions occurring chiefly in the 
extreme southern part of the state. On the whole, the distinction seems to be 
adhered to in other regions also, but precisely to what degree remains to be 
determined. Eeciprocity that is verbal but not conceptual is very rare or 
wanting in California. In general, therefore, it may be stated that reciprocity 
is always conceptual in this area and frequently verbal also. 

342 University of California Publications in Am. Aroli. and Ethn. [Vol. 12 

AhJco'o-k, woman's daughter's child, reciprocal to n-aTcau-k; also, woman's 
mother's sister's son and man's mother's sister's son or daughter; woman's 
sister's daughter's son; and, presumably, by analogy with a'au-va-Tc, any child 
of any nephew of a woman, though this wider meaning was not recorded. 

Ahlcyo-k, man's daughter's child, reciprocal of n-akweu-k. It is not certain 
that this term is distinct from the last. 

There is a curious change of generations implied in the primary or simplest 
meanings of the terms used to denote relatives beyond the grandfather. Thus 
in the pure male line: 

Grandfather, n-apau-k, is father's father. 

Great-grandfather, isu-ich-k, is younger brother. 

Great -great-grandfather, iki-ch-k, is stepfather or grandfather's brother. 

Uncle Class 

N-avi-k, father's older brother; also, father's father's younger brother; also, 
of two male second or fourth cousins related wholly in the male line, the de- 
scendant of the younger brother calls the descendant of the older brother by 
this term, reciprocally to ivet-k ; but as between third cousins the corresponding 
terms are isu-ich-k and inchien-k. 

The father's younger brother is called one's own older brother. 

N-athi-k, mother's older sister. 

N-amoi-k, mother's younger sister. 

N-akwi-lc, mother's brother. 

N-api-k, father's sister. 

Ivet-k, man's younger brother's child or woman's younger sister's child, and 
thus reciprocal to n-avi-k and n-athi-k jointly; also, male second or fourth cousin 
related wholly in the male line and descended from the older of two brothers — 
reciprocal in this sense to n-avi-k. 

A man's older brother's child is called isu-ich-k, "younger brother," recip- 
rocal to inchien-k, older brother or father's younger brother. 

Inoi-k, woman's older sister's child, reciprocal to n-amoi-k. 

Evany-k, man's sister's child, reciprocal to n-akwi-k. 

Emarepi-k, woman's brother's child, reciprocal to n-api-k. 

Parent-in-Law Class 

Nya-halye'au-k, man's daughter's husband, wife's father; that is, self- 
reciprocal term for father-in-law and son-in-law used by males only. 

Unyi-k expresses all remaining relationships in this class, besides several 
others. It denotes: woman's father-in-law; woman's son-in-law; mother-in-law; 
daughter-in-law; husband's brother or sister; brother's wife; man's stepmother; 
woman's stepson. 

Itmumavenya, said to mean "who eats with you," is used in place of unyi-k 
after the death of the connecting relative, at least in the cases, and they 
constitute the majority, when this person was a male. 

Brother-in-Law Class 

Amily-k, wife's brother, man's sister's husband; that is, self -reciprocal term 
used by brothers-in-law. This term is also used by men to denote the husband 
of any collateral female relative. 

Inya-huvi-k, wife's sister; woman's sister's husband. Self -reciprocal. 

1917] Krocber: California Kinship Systems 343 

The remaining four of the eight relationships in this class are expressed by 
the blanket term unyi-Tc. The Mohave make the general statement that a man 
calls any female relative by marriage unyi-lc, and is so called by her. This is 
nearly true: the only exception is inya-huvi-k. 

All affinities by marriage are expressed by the foregoing four terms, whose 

range, however, is very unequal, as a summarization reveals: 

,, , ,. „ (of his own generation amily-k; 

Male connections of a man J . ,, ° ,. , , , , 

lof another generation nya-halye au-k. 

A woman's husband and her sister call each other inya-huvi-k. 

All other male connection of a woman "1 

All other female connections of a man yunyi-k. 

All female connections of a woman I 

Hushand and Wife 

Ichu-ich, husband. 
Nya-ha'aka-ch, wife. 


I obtained three terms for cousins: 

Dhohumi-k, man's father's brother's son. 

Chasumav-k, woman's mother's sister's daughter. 

Chakava-k, man's father's sister's son or mother's brother's son; that is, a 
self -reciprocal term between male first cross-cousins. 

The Mohave terminology for cousins is as interesting as it is complex. 
Besides the foregoing three specific terms, there are four others from the 
brother and grandchild classes; but parent and uncle terms, which are found in 
certain other Californian languages, and among a number of Eastern tribes, are 
not employed. The following tabulation brings together all the data. 

Male calls 
Female calls 

Children of Brothers 
male, dhohumi-k; 
female, a'ava-k, son's child. 

male, a'ava-k; 

female, not obtained; analogy suggests a'ava-k. 

Children of Sisters 
fmale, ahko'o-k, daughter's child; 

Male calls <- , ,.7,7 
j female, ahko o-k. 

„ , „ (male, ahko'6-k; 
Female calls Ij,,-, . 

I female, chasumav-k. 

Children of Brother Call Children of Sister 

-., , ,, (male, chakava-k; 

Male calls' , . , . . 

I female, mya-k, younger sister. 

„ (male, inchien-k, older brother; 
Female calls J . , „ 
/female, ? 

Children of Sister Call Children of Brother 

,, , „ (male, chakava-k; 
Male calls ' , . , 

I female, inya-k. 

„ (male, inchien-k; 
Female calls' , . 

/female, ? 

344 University of California Publications in Am. Aroli. and Ethn. [Vol. 12 

Briefly, the children of brothers call each other "son's child," except that 
a special term is used when both are males; and the children of sisters call each 
other "daughter's child," except that another special term is used when both 
are females. Cross-cousins of opposite sex denominate each other "younger 
sister" and "older brother," according to sex; the "younger" and "older" 
seem quite fixed irrespective of the actual ages of the persons or the age or sex 
of their parents; that is, a man's female cross-cousin is always his younger 
sister, and a woman's male cross-cousin is always designated as a brother older 
than herself. Male cross-cousins denominate each other by a special term. Tor 
female cross-cousins there is unfortunately no information. The basis of this 
remarkable plan is that cross-cousins call each other brothers and sisters, parallel 
cousins designate each other as grandchildren, and specific cousin terms are 
restricted to the cases in which all the persons involved in the relationship are 
of the same sex or in which the children of brother and sister are of the same sex. 

The terminology used between remoter cousins is equally extraordinary. 
This has been obtained only for the male descendants of two brothers. 

Brothers Older Younger 

I I 

First cousins 1 2 

I I 

Second cousins 3 4 

I I 

Third cousins 5 6 

1 I 

Fourth cousins 7 8 

1 calls 2: dhohumi-Tc ; 

2 calls 1: dhohumi-k. 

3 calls 4: ivet-k, man's younger brother's child; 

4 calls 3: navi-k, father's older brother. 

5 calls 6: inchien-k, father's younger brother; 

6 calls 5: isu-ich-k, man's older brother's child. 

7 calls 8: ivet-k, man's younger brother's child; 

8 calls 7: navi-k, father's older brother. 

Fifth cousins, it may be surmised, call each other like third cousins. 

All these terms are conceptually reciprocal. 

It will be noted that the actual age of any cousin is immaterial. The 
terminology is fixed by the respective ages of the brothers from whom the 
reckoning starts. 

On this basis, and the assumption that uncle-nephew terminology is to be 
employed, it seems natural that the allotment of names between second cousins 
is on the plan that the descendant of the older brother is the "uncle"; but it 
is surprising that between third cousins it is the descendant of the same older 
brother who is reckoned the nephew. 

The explanation may be in the fact that inchien-k means older brother as 
well as father's younger brother, and that therefore I apply to my father's 
brother (if he is the junior) the same term which he applies to my father. 
Something of the idea inhering in this terminology appears to have been 
extended along the descending line of cousins, with the result that whatever 
my cousin of my own generation calls me, I call his father or my son calls him. 

1917] Kroeber: California Kinship Systems 345 

for indtien-lc or navi-k ; whereas for isu-ich-k and ivet-k, my father calls him or I 
call his son whatever he calls me. Thus: 


1 > y : inchien-k 


6 > 4 : inchien-k 


5 > 4 : navi-k 


5 > 8 : isu-ich-k 


6 > 7 : ivet-k 

and, it may 

be suspected, 


: ivet-k as 3 > 4 


: navi-k as 8 > 7 


Reciprocity is very strongly developed in the Mohave system. It 
is manifest in practically every class of terms. 

Self-reciprocal, that is, reciprocal both conceptually and verbally, 
are iki-ch-k, with a wide variety of meanings, but all falling into pairs 
that are exactly complementary ; unyi-k, of which exactly the same 
can be said ; the three other terms for connections by marriage : 
nya-halye'au-k, amily-k, and inya-huvi-k ; the three specific cousin 
terms; and a'ava-k and ahko'o-k as used between cousins. 

Conceptual reciprocity without verbal identity occurs in the terms 
used between parents and children ; between grandparents and grand- 
children; between all uncles or aunts and their nephews and nieces, 
and between brother and sister terms as used by cross-cousins. The 
only irregularity is that, in the grandparent class, a'ava-k, son's child, 
is reciprocal to both n-apau-k and n-amau-k; and similarly in the 
uncle class, ivet-k to n-avi-k and n-athi-k. 

The only terms that are not reciprocal are the three for brothers 
and sisters, when used in that fundamental and unextended sense; 
and possibly those for half brothers and sisters. 

A similar degree of reciprocal expression seems to pervade the 
kinship system of the Papago of southern Arizona. Except for Yurok 
and Wintun, all known systems in California are more or less recip- 
rocal ; but none are so extreme in this respect as Mohave. 

Relation to Clan System 
The Mohave possess a clan system similar to that of several other 
Yuman tribes. It is patrilinear, exogamic, and toteraic, though its 
totemism is veiled: the clans themselves have no names, but all the 
women of one clan bear the same name, which carries a totemic 
implication or connotation. 

346 University of California Publications in Am. Arch, and Ethn. [Vol. 12 

I am unable to discern in the kinship terminology any definite 
reflection of the division into exogamic units. The cousin nomen- 
clature is an example. With unilateral descent, if the children of 
brothers are of the same clan, the children of sisters must normally 
be of different clans ; yet the actual terminology is exactly parallel. 
The children of brother and sister, again, must necessarily belong to 
different clans ; yet it is only these that cousins brother-sister names 
are applied. 

The frequency with which the sex of an intermediate relative is 
denoted by Mohave terms may seem an indication of the unilateral 
reckoning of descent in the clan system. But this is offset by the 
instances in which collateral kindred are not merged in lineal, as is 
often supposed to be the normal practice where exogamic groups 

The partrilinear reckoning of the Mohave, on the other hand, may 
have led to their making certain distinctions among males that are 
not made for females. Thus there are two words for father, only one 
for mother ; a man uses different words to denote his son and his 
daughter, a woman only one. The primary meaning of the generic 
term iki-ch-k seems to be stepfather, whereas the only word for step- 
mother is unyi-k, whose fundamental denotation is a female affinity 
or the affinity of a woman. The terms of the parent-in-law and 
brother-in-law classes reveal a marked asymmetry in favor of males. 
There are two words denoting the male affinities of males, and only 
two to express the three times as numerous female affinities of females 
and those between males and females. 

The terms which my informant, who, although a man, was assisted 
by several women, failed to mention are in every case those used by 
women or applied to them: stepdaughter; woman's step-parent; 
woman's half-brother or sister; woman's female cross-cousin; second 
or remoter cousin, either female or descended wholly or partly from 
females. Since all the parallel terms for males were usually volun- 
teered, it appears that the Mohave think and express themselves first 
in terms of male lineage. 

There are only two cases of the finer distinction being drawn on 
the female side. The daughter's son and her daughter are distin- 
guished, the son's children classed together. There is a term for 
mother's younger as well as mother's older sister, but the father's 
younger brother is merged in one's own older brother, and the same 
for the reciprocals. 

1917] Kroeber: California Kinship Systems 347 


Apart from the overwhelming inclination toward reciprocity, the 
distinctive features of the Mohave kinship system are the following: 

Relatives of the most diverse generations are denoted by the same 
terms. This is not on the plan of many American systems that if I 
call a relative, such as an uncle, by a certain name, I apply the same 
name to his son, grandson, and so on ad infinitum, that is, to my 
cousin, cousin once removed, and the latter 's descendants; or that the 
word for grandfather is simply made to include the great-grand- 
father. The principle or principles followed in Mohave remain rather 
obscure ; but the one point emerges with certainty, that the Mohave 
are normally at pains to use terms of the most clearly discrete signifi- 
cance as to generation, for their kin of adjacent generations. Thus 
first cousins are called grandchildren, not uncles; the great-grand- 
father is denominated younger brother ; and so forth. It would seem 
that, the wider the leap, the more satisfactory the terminology; pos- 
sibly because an element of confusion is thereby minimized. In fact, 
it might almost be said that it is only in a technical and narrow sense 
of the word that there is ignoring of generations. 

As regards the distinction of collateral from lineal relatives, the 
Mohave are unusually precise at several points. Parallel uncles and 
aunts are not merged with the father and mother, nor nephews and 
nieces with children. Three-fourths of all cousins are designated by 
terms other than brother and sister. 

Sex of the intermediate relative is specified in practically all words 
into which this factor can enter: grandparents and grandchildren; 
terms of the uncle and aunt class ; cousins ; and half brothers and 
sisters. Some may see in this prevalence an influence of the clan 
system. To me it seems rather associated with the tendency toward 

Expression of both the sex of the speaker and the sex of the relative 
denoted tends to lead to a great multiplicity of terms if consistently 
carried out in a reciprocating system, especially in the grandparent 
and uncle terms. The Mohave solve the problem in the usual way: 
they express one category in the terms applied to the younger rela- 
tives, the other category in those for the older relatives. Both factors 
are specified in the self-reciprocal terms of the stepfather, cousin, 
parent-in-law, and brother-in-law classes, and in those used between 
a father and his children; whereas the term for older brother-sister, 

348 University of California Publications in Am. Aroh. and Etlin. [Vol. 12 

the word unyi-k, and a few of the nephew-niece and grandchild desig- 
nations — especially if their extended meanings be included — are wholly 
indeterminate as to sex. 

The distinction of absolute age within one and the same generation 
follows an irregular course. It occurs between brothers and sisters ; 
is lacking for half brothers and sisters when these are specified as 
such ; is made for parallel uncles and aunts and disregarded for cross 
ones, and the same for their reciprocals ; is wholly wanting among 
first cousins; but always, though indirectly indicated, so far as the 
evidence goes, for remoter cousins. 

Affinities by marriage are never merged with blood kin. Iki-ch-k 
would be an exception if the stepfather relationship were counted as 
belonging to the former group. 

From the point of view of development of terminology for the 
several natural groups of kindred, salient features of the Mohave 
system are the consolidation of designations for marriage connections 
into a very few words, and the development of an elaborate nomen- 
clature for cousins, including at least three specific terms in a total 
of seven or eight employed for first cousins. 


The Luiseiio are of Shoshonean stock, but live in an entirely 
different social environment in their southern California home from 
the distantly allied Tiibatulabal and Kawaiisu of the Sierra Nevada, 
whose kinship systems have been described by Mr. E. "W. Gifford,- 
and from the still more remote Northern Paiute treated of in the 
present paper. 

The Luiseno terms are not used in their absolute forms as here 
given. In actual speech they occur only with possessive prefixes, such 
as no-, "my." The ending -mai is a diminutive. 

The system has been recorded independently and without dis- 
crepancies of moment by the late P. S. Sparkman and myself. The 
former's list of remote and extended applications of terms is some- 
what fuller. 

Parent Class 
Na', father. 
Yo, mother. 
Ka-mai, son. 
Shwa-mai, daughter. 

2 Present series, xir, 219-248, 1917. 

1917] Eroeber: California Kinship Systems 349 

Brother Class 
Pash, older brother. 
Kes, older sister. 
Fet, younger brother. 
Pit, younger sister. 

Grandparent Class 

Ka', father's parent; also, brother of the father's father and sister of the 
father's mother; also, woman's father-in-law, and, reciprocally, man's daughter- 
in-law; also, woman's daughter-in-law; also, man's brother's son's wife and 
woman's sister's son's wife, that is, parallel nephew's wife. 3 

Ka'-mai, reciprocal to A'a' so far as this denotes persons of the grandparent 
generation; that is, son's child, man's brother's son's child, woman's sister's 
son 's child. 

Kwa, mother's father; mother's father's brother, \ 

Kwa-mai, reciprocal to kwa; that is, man's daughter's child, man's brother's 
daughter's child. 

Tu', mother's mother; mother's mother's sister. 

Tu'-mai, reciprocal to tu'; that is, woman's daughter's child, woman's sister's 
daughter's child. 

Piwi or piwai, great-grandfather or great-grandmother, apparently in any 

Piwi-mai, reciprocally, any great-grandchild. 

Sosa, great-great-grandparent or great-great-grandchild. 

Yuto, a person removed one generation farther than the sosa. 

Taula, one generation more distant than yuto, that is, great -great-great-great- 
grandparent or child. 

The terms for ancestors or descendants from three to six generations removed 
are evidently convenient devices for expressing the lapse of generations, and 
little else. They completely ignore the factor of lineage which is denoted in 
the grandparent terms; are sexless; and, it may be surmised, are applied indis- 
criminately to lineal and collateral kindred. It would be interesting to know 
their etymologies. 

Kek, grandmother's brother; grandfather's sister; reciprocally, man's sister's 
grandchild, woman's brother's grandchild; also, man's brother's or woman's 
sister's child's spouse. Specific terms for kindred removed by three steps of 
relationship — other than of the speaker's own generation or three generations 
lineally removed from him — are rare the world over. This particular term is 
so far unparalleled in California. 

Uncle Class 
Kmu, Tcamu (nu-Jcmu, cham-Tcamu) , father's older brother. 
Emu-mai, Tcamu-mai, reciprocal, man 's younger brother 's child. 
Mash, father's younger brother; also, stepfather. 

Mai-mai, or me, reciprocal, man's older brother's child; also, man's stepchild. 
Nosh, mother's older sister. 

Nosh-mai or nos-mai, reciprocal, woman's younger sister's child. 
Yos-mai (e%'idently from yo, mother), mother's younger sister; stepmother. 
Kuli-mai, reciprocal, woman's older sister's child; woman's stepchild. 
Tash, mother's brother. 

3 Sic, in the data available, although this signification overlaps one of those 
given for Tcelc below, namely, parallel nephew-niece's spouse. 

350 University of California Publications in Am. Arch, and Ethn. [Vol. 12 

Mela (compare mai-mai, me), reciprocal, man's sister's child. 

Pa-mai, father's sister. 

Ali-mai or ala-mai, reciprocal, woman's brother's child. 

Parent-in-Law Class 

Kwa pa-na, man's father-in-law; man's son-in-law. Self -reciprocal. The 
literal meaning is "my daughter's child its father." The term therefore really 
denotes the son-in-law, and its apparently absurd application to the father-in- 
law must be due to a conventional extension under the influence of the tendency 
toward reciprocity. 

Tu' pa-na, man's mother-in-law; woman's son-in-law. Self -reciprocal. Liter- 
ally, daughter's child's father. The secondary application is again to the older 
person. An extended meaning is woman's sister's son-in-law. 

A woman calls her father-in-law lea', paternal grandparent. Possibly this 
stands for ' ' my child 's father 's parent. ' ' The father-in-law in turn, and the 
mother-in-law also, apply the same term fea' to their daughter-in-law. 

A woman calls her mother-in-law lea ' shungal, ' ' father 's parent woman, ' ' 
or, "father-in-law woman." It is not certain that the qualifying shungal is 
always added. 

Na-hiva, parent of child-in-law (like Yokuts malcsM, Miwok malcsi). The term 
is also said to be applied to children -in-law; and to "the nephew's" parent-in- 
law. The latter meaning seems inconsistent with the prevailing Luiseno 
principles of designating kindred. 

Brother-in-Law Class 

Talma, woman's brother's wife or husband's sister; that is, a self -reciprocal 
term between sisters-in-law. Exactly equivalent to Mohave inya-huvi-k. The 
etymology may possibly be from to'ma, wife. 

Mes pa-na, all other brother-in-law and sister-in-law relationships; that is, 
woman 's brother-in-law and any immediate affinity of a man in his own generation. 
There is no independent word mes in modern Luiseno. Me or mai-mai, reciprocal 
to mMsh, denoting a man's older brother's child, cannot be considered the source, 
for me pana, ' ' my older brother 's child 's father, ' ' would only be a meaninglessly 
roundabout way of saying "older brother." The derivation must therefore 
be from mela,* man's sister's child. Mela pana, man's sister's child's father, 
would therefore denote a man's sister's husband. Evidently the phrase was 
then used reciprocally for wife's brother; and finally extended to include the 
other relationships which it denotes. 

Husband and Wife 
Kung, husband. 

Pewo, husband, literally, "partner" or "mate." 
Shnga-lci, wife, from shunga-l, woman. 
To'ma, wife. 

Ahi, co-wife. At least in address, however, "older sister" or "younger 
sister" is usually substituted when the personal relation is amicable. 

Parallel cousins are brothers and sisters. Whether they are older or younger 
depends upon the respective ages of their parents, not of themselves. 
Ulcshum or yuksum, any cross-cousin. 

4 Perhaps the same stem me plus noun ending -7a, -I; and mes for mesh in 
composition (compare nosh and nos-mai), mesh being me plus another frequent 
noun-ending -sh or -cha. 

1917 J Kroeber: California Kinship Systems 351 


The Luiseno system closely parallels that of the Mohave. There 
is the same dominant inclination toward exact reciprocity, made even 
more striking by a greater prevalence of verbally reciprocal terms. 
The tendency affects practically all the terms of the grandparent, 
uncle, parent-in-law, and brother-in-law classes in both languages; 
Mohave adds parents, and Luiseiio cousins. Another fundamental 
common feature is the limitation of terms to designate connections 
by marriage. The Mohave plan is the use of a very few self-reciprocal 
words of narrow range plus one term that covers all other affinities. 
The Luiseno appear to employ no radical words at all for affinities 
(the special term for woman's sister-in-law is very likely a derivation 
from "wife"), except the somewhat generic nahwa, but help them- 
selves out with circumlocutory phrases which are as purely descriptive 
as the corresponding English ones ; or by boldly extending the meaning 
of terms for blood kindred. The degree to which the various factors 
entering into kinship are given expression by the two tribes is also 
very nearly the same. And, finally, there are special resemblances, 
as in the separation of parallel uncles and aunts into those older and 
younger than the parent, whereas cross-uncles and aunts are not so 
distinguished. The one important divergence is in the terminology 
for cousins, in which the two systems follow radically different 

Among special peculiarities of Luiseiio is the employment of 
literally self-contradictory phrases of transparent meaning for many 
connections by marriage, as the obvious result of the reciprocal in- 
fluence. This trait has some analogues in Northern Paiute, though 
there it takes the form of a wrong implication of sex and the cause 
appears to be mere simplifying assimilation. In both instances, how- 
ever, it is purely descriptive terms that are logically misused. This 
point is of considerable theoretical interest. If affinity terms which 
on their face denote one thing, and that alone, are used in other 
senses from merely psychological causes, such as tendencies toward 
reciprocal or simplified expression, the presumption is that terms for 
blood kindred are also sometimes radically altered from their original 
meaning under the stimulus of similar causes without any accom- 
panying change in form of marriage, kind of descent, or social insti- 
tutions. The only difference is that transparent descriptive terms 
allow us to prove without doubt that the extension or alteration of 

352 University of California Publications in Am. Arch, and Etlm. [Vol. 12 

meaning has taken place in a particular case, whereas when we are 
confronted with unanalyzable stem-words the same sort of evidence 
can rarely be brought. But a very high probability must remain that 
a certain proportion of even the most elementary and important terms 
of relationship the world over have derived their present significance 
from causes not connected with form of marriage or descent. 

Other unusual traits of the Luiseno system are the occurrence of 
terms for lineal relatives three to six generations distant ; for the whole 
class of cross-cousins as a unit ; for a child-in-law 's parent ; and for 
collateral cross-relatives of the grandparent generation. All of these 
evince a distinct feeling for specific relationships removed by three 
steps of kinship, whereas most other Indians cover such remote re- 
lationships by applications of terms for nearer kindred. Again we 
face a feature of kinship designation that is the reflection of an 
abstract idea. 

In making the seniority of brother-sister cousins depend on the 
parents' ages the Luiseno follow a practice that is adhered to by a 
number of American tribes but which in the present state of knowledge 
is unique in California. 


The following system is that of the Yaudanchi tribe, belonging to 
the Tule-Kaweah group of the Foothill division of the Yokuts.° Terms 
in parentheses are from the Yauelmani, who, though fairly near 
neighbors of the Yaudanchi and in frequent association with them, 
speak a dialect of the Valley division. Both tribes are from the 
southern range of Yokuts territory and in contact with Shoshonean 
tribes, such as the Tiibatulabal and Kawaiisu. Yokuts systems have 
been collected by Mr. Gifford from the Tachi, at about the center of 
the area of the stock, and the Gashowu and Chukchansi in the north ; 
but these are as yet unpublished. 

Parent Class 
Natet, father; vocative: opoyo. (Yauelmani, in reference, nopop.) 
Nazhozh, mother; vocative: ishaya. (Yauelmani, in reference, no 'am.) 
The initial syllable in n- in these words appears to be a prefix, originally 
meaning "my," which has become crystallized; while the stem of natet, nopop, 
and nazJiozh seems to have been reduplicated and then reduced. 
Buchong, son; man's brother's son. (Butson.) 

5 Present series, ii, 240, 1907. 

1917] Kroeber: California Kinship Systems 353 

Ahid, daughter; but also child. A man's brother's daughter, and a woman's 
sister 's child of either sex, are called ahi, which is of course from the same stem. 
That there is no confusion in my notes appears from the objective cases of the 
two words: ahda and aliia. 

Brother Class 

Nibech, older brother. (Nibech.) 

Ne'esh, younger brother. 

Na'at, older sister. (Na'at.) 

No'ot, younger sister. (No'ot.) 

An old possessive prefix appears to have become incorporated in these words 

Hukozh, brother or sister of opposite sex from speaker, irrespective of age. 
Self -reciprocal. 

Grandfather Class 
Enash, any grandfather; any grandchild of a man. (Enes.) 
T'uta, mother's mother; woman's daughter's child. (Kamits, mother's mother; 

ts'utsa, woman's daughter's child.) 

Bap', possibly pap", father's mother; woman's son's child. {Bapa.) 
Hitwaiu (t palatal), great-grandfather; man's great grandchild. This word 

also means "ghost"; but the reciprocal usage indicates that, whatever its 

original meaning, it is also employed as a definite term of relationship. 

Mokoiot, great-grandmother; woman's great-grandchild. This term must be 

derived from mokoi, whose present meaning is mother's sister. 

Uncle Class 

Komoyish, father's brother. (Komoyis.) 

MoTcoi, mother's sister. {MoTcoi.) 

Agash or akash, mother's brother. (Akash.) 

Guiha, father's sister. (Nusus.) 

Chayah, man's sister's child: reciprocal of agash. (Tsayah.) 

Napash, woman's brother's child; reciprocal of guiha.- (Napas.) 

Ahi, woman's sister's child: reciprocal of mokoi; also, a man's brother's 
daughter. Except that a man calls his brother's son buchong, that is, son, ahi 
therefore denotes all parallel nephews and nieces, and is reciprocal in meaning 
to komoyish and mokoi together. Its connection with ahid, daughter, has already 
been mentioned. (The Yauelmani equivalent is not entirely clear. It may be 
butson, son or child in general.) 

Father-in-Law Class 
Nahamish, father-in-law. (Nahamis.) 
Ontip, mother-in-law. (Ontip.) 

Napatum, son-in-law; also, sister's husband. (Napatim.) 
Onmid, daughter-in-law. {Onmil.) 
Makshi, parent of child-in-law. Self -reciprocal. 

Brother-in-Law Class 

Nip'ei, wife's brother. (Nipi.) 

Onpoi, husband's brother, wife's sister. (Onpoi.) 

354 University of California Fuhlications in Am. Arch, and Ethn. [Vol. 12 

Itwap; brother's wife; also, husband's sister. (Yauelmani, itivap, with the 
same meaning, except that a woman calls her brother's wife Mtwinits.) 

For sister's husband, see napatum, above. 

Informants mentioned that one married an onpoi on the death of one 's spouse. 
The two meanings of the term are not reciprocal, however. Itwap and napatum 
are both reciprocal to onpoi, and both denote other relationships as well. 

Husband and Wife 
Yiwin, wife, and yuwenich, husband, are both from the stem yiw, appearing 
with the formative suffix -in as the verb "to marry"; as, yewin-ji, "he married." 
Yuwenich means "the marrier. " Neither term seems to be used in address. 
The Yauelmani are said to refer to the wife as moTci: compare Yaudanchi molcoi, 
mother's sister. 

Death of Connecting Belative 
The following terms for affinities by marriage are altered upon the death of 
the connecting relative: 

ontip becomes unitipi; 
napatum becomes napitimi; 
onmid becomes onimidi; 
onpoi becomes unipiyi. 
The alteration is by a process that has several analogues in Yokuts grammar. 
A suffix -i is added which shifts the accent a syllable farther from the head of 
the word and changes the vowels of all but the initial syllable. The idea of 
severance of relationship is expressed in several neighboring Shoshonean lan- 
guages ;6 but the means here described is peculiar to the genius of Yokuts.''^ 


All five terms of the grandfather class are exactly self-reciprocal. 
In the uncle class there is no trace of verbal reciprocity. The cross 
uncle and aunt terms, however, each have a conceptual reciprocal. 
The reciprocals for parallel uncle and aunt are the words for children, 
or terms derived from them. In the parent-in-law and brother-in-law 
classes there are no reciprocals, except for makshi, parent of a child- 
in-law, A woman calls her husband's sister itwap and is so called by 
her ; but the word is also used by a man for his brother's wife. More- 
over, in Yauelmani, husband 's sister remains itwap, but the reciprocal 
is kitivinits, if the recorded data are not confused. It is therefore 
necessary to conclude that the Yokuts entertain little more feeling 
than we for reciprocity in the brother-in-law class which is so favorable 
for the expression of this idea. 

That the word for great-grandfather means "ghost," that is, 
"dead person," ensures that it was first applied to the aged relative 

6 Present series, xii, 241, 1917. 

7 Present series, n, 178, 201, 1907. 

1917] Kroeber: California Kinship Systems 355 

and that its reciprocal meaning of great-grandchild is secondary. 
This example renders it probable that the other reciprocal terms in 
this class are also children's terms which their grandparents re- 
bestowed on the little ones. The generic southern Yokuts term for 
mother's mother and a woman's daughter's child is t'lda.^ In Yauel- 
mani, however, the mother's mother is called kamits. But as the 
presumably secondary reciprocal remains ts'utsa, it must be concluded 
that the Yauelmani once used this term also with the meaning of 
mother's mother which it possesses among the other Yokuts, and that 
kamits was subsequently introduced. A change of social institutions 
cannot be invoked as explanation, because no custom of marriage, 
descent, or kin function can possibly be involved. Any condition of 
Yokuts society that permitted the Yaudanchi t'uta-t'uta terminology 
would be equally well served by the Yauelmani kamits-ts'utsa termin- 
ology. The situation is simply that one tribe adheres to its original 
usage of a single self-reciprocal word, while the other has come to 
employ two terms that are exactly complementary. There is nothing 
to prevent this process of enlargement of the series of terms, or the 
contrary one of reduction, from having gone on indefinitely while the 
accompanying society remained identical. It is entirely conceivable, 
for instance, that the Yauelmani might in time have come to use not 
only six but ten words in the grandparent class in place of the original 
five ; or that, on the other hand, they might have added verbal to 
conceptual reciprocity in the words of the uncle group, and thereby 
diminished their number from seven to four. The final outcome of 
such a process would be a Yauelmani system of nomenclature thor- 
oughly different at many points from its original form and from that 
of allied peoples, without any change of social system and merely 
through a change of psychological attitude as expressed in speech. 

Much the same can be inferred from ahid and ahi, two terms 
scarcely differentiated in sound and the first of wavering, the second 
of asymmetric and therefore probably also fluctuating meaning. 
Either the Yaudanchi once called their parallel nieces ''daughters" 
outright, and later began to differentiate between these two kinds of 
relatives by altering the term when applied to one of the two ; or they 
once possessed a special term for parallel niece (or for a woman's 
parallel nephew-niece) and later replaced this by the word for 
daughter (or child), the old sense of distinctness of the niece from 
the daughter however remaining sufficiently strong to prevent a 

8 Compare Paleuyami djudja, present series, ii, 267, 268, 1907. 

356 University of California Publications in Am. Arch, and Ethn. [Vol. 12 

wholly unmodified employment of the word "daughter" for the 
relationship of niece. In the one event we are confronted by an 
incipient dissimilation, in the other by an incomplete assimilation of 
terms. If now we assume that the cause of this change was an 
alteration in the social organization of the Yaudanchi, such as a drift 
to or from the levirate, for instance, it follows either that this social 
alteration was also halting and incomplete, which is likely to be 
difficult to corroborate by independent evidence in the ease of a prim- 
itive tribe, and therefore to remain a purely speculative opinion ; or, 
if the change in social conditions was fulfilled, the change in nomen- 
clature lagged behind and now reflects the social evolution only 


The Central Miwok system has been presented and analyzed in 
full by Mr. E. "W. Gifford.'' Its special peculiarities appear to be three. 

First, there are five terms for three-step affinities by marriage — 
pinuksa, kumatsa, moe, haiyeme, maksi — which denote such persons 
as the wife's mother's brother, a woman's sister's son's wife, and the 
husband's brother's wife. The word maksi has the same significance 
as Yokuts makshi, and is interesting as a case of outright transfer of 
a kinship term from one language to another. As it is one of a class 
in Miwok, but so far as known stands alone in Yokuts, the latter people 
are likely to have been the borrowers. It is, however, necessary to 
bear in consideration that in as much as I did not ordinarily attempt 
to secure terms of this type of rather remote and indirect relationship, 
there is a possibility that they may actually occur in several of the 
systems here presented from which they now appear to be lacking. 

Second, the grandparent class is much reduced in Miwok. There 
are only the three terms : grandfather, grandmother, grandchild. The 
grandmother's brother is a grandfather, and so on. 

Third, the system is rather asymmetrical. The father's brother 
is a father, but there are two terms for the mother's sisters. There 
is one reciprocal to father's sister, two to mother's brother. There 
is one word denoting parents-in-law, two for ehildren-in-law. Olo is 
the brother's wife, irrespective of sex, but there are two reciprocals 
for husband's brother and husband's sister. 

9 "Miwok Moieties," present series, xii, 139-194, 1916. 

1917] Kroeber: California Kinship Systems 357 

The differences from Yokuts are not serious. The Yokuts self- 
reciprocal word for brother-sister of opposite sex is lacking. The 
terms of the grandparent class differ in not being reciprocal at all in 
Miwok, whereas in Yokuts they are self -reciprocal. The Yokuts great- 
grandparent terms are not represented. Yokuts generally has con- 
ceptually reciprocal terms for parallel as well as for cross relatives 
of the uncle class ; Miwok merges these parallel relatives in the parent 
class, except for the mother's sisters. Yokuts distinguishes and Miwok 
combines the father-in-law and mother-in-law. Yokuts possesses four 
terms and Miwok five in the brother-in-law class, and the allotment 
to these of the eight logically possible relationships is mostly different, 
Miwok proceeding on the principle that such terms are conceptually 
reciprocal without being self-reciprocal, and that the sex of the spouse 
is always denoted while that of the brother-sister is left indeterminate, 
whereas the Yokuts classification is more random. The cousin termin- 
ology, on which Mr. Gifford has full and interesting data, can unfor- 
tunately not be compared on account of lack of Yokuts data. 

Reciprocity is nearly equally developed in the two systems, the 
Yokuts, however, favoring it rather for blood kin and the Miwok for 
the less numerously recognized connections by marriage. Both systems 
evince much less reciprocity than either Luiseiio or Mohave. 

The Miwok men marry their mother's brother's daughters, but 
Mr. Gifford concludes very convincingly that the original form of 
marriage is that of a man to his wife's brother's daughter, because 
twelve Miwok kinship terms are in accord with this type of marriage 
and none with cross-cousin marriage. Unfortunately it is not known 
whether the southern Yokuts marry either of these relatives ; nor can 
anything be predicted in the matter because the full significations for 
most of the Yokuts terms corresponding to the twelve in question have 
not been obtained. 

Another matter that is of logical bearing on the Miwok and Yokuts 
systems is an exogamic, patrilinear moiety organization. The northern 
and central Yokuts possess this organization in a form much like that 
of the Central Miwok. For the southern Yokuts, from whom the 
kinship terms here presented were collected, its existence seems im- 
probable. It is very doubtful, however, whether this organization 
has seriously influenced kinship terminology. Of twenty-nine Miwok 
terms used by a man, twelve refer to his own moiety, nine to the 
opposite, and eight do not indicate moiety; for a woman, the corre- 
sponding figures are fourteen, seven, and nine. 

358 University of California Publications in Am. Arch, and Ethn. [Vol. 12 

For the sake of comparison, I abstract from Mr. Gilford's paper 
the full set of designations for first cousins, arranged in the same 
order as in my list for the Mohave, who are the only tribe here dealt 
with for whom the corresponding data are available. ^° It will be 
seen that the two classifications are as unlike as they well could be, 
and are clearly determined by very different principles. 

Children of Brothers 

(male, tachi, chale, older and younger brother; 
JMale calls <„ i^jiti^ ^ •■ 

imale, tete, kole, ol( 

„ ^ „ , male, tachi, chale ; 
Female calls J „ ' . . , , 
/female, tete, Jcole. 

) female, tete, Jcole, older and younger sister. 

Male calls 
Female calls 

Children of Sisters 
male, tachi, chale; 
female, tete, kole. 

fmale, tachi, chale; 

j female, tete, kole. 

Children of Brother Call Children of Sister 

T,r , „ (male, iipsa, man's sister's son; 

Male calls) , , ' , • ^ , \, i,^ 

/female, lupuoa, man's sister's daughter. 

Female calls 5r^ ""''''' T' . 

) female, tune, daughter. 

Children of Sister Call Children of Brother 

fmale, kaka, mother's brother; 

1 female, anisii, mother's younger sister, stepmother. 

_ , „ (male, kaka. 
Female calls J „ 

/female, amsu 


This system was secured from Gilbert Natches, a Northern Paiute, 
or, by Shoshone designation, Paviotso, of Pyramid Lake Reservation, 
Nevada. The terms are presented in their stem forms, although they 
are rarely if ever used without a possessive prefix or in composition. 
After certain of these elements, such as i-, ' ' my, ' ' initial k, t, p, change 
to almost fricative g, d, b. The accent is invariably on the second 
syllable ; except in hai'i, where it is borne by the diphthong, and in 
dtsi. The vowels of syllables following the accent are unvoiced or 
whispered. The character e does not carry the usual value of this 

10 Except the Luiseno, whose terminology is according to a thoroughly dis- 
similar but very simple principle, and the Northern Paiute, who use only brother- 
sister terms. 

1917] Kroeber: California Kinship Systems 359 

letter, but represents a mixed vowel occurring in all Shoshonean 
languages and often written ii. 

Parent Class 
Na, father. 
Fia, mother. 
Tua, son. 
Fade, daughter. 

Brother Class 

Fabi'i, older brother. 

Wanga'a, younger brother. 

Hama'a, older sister. 

Feiii'i, younger sister. 

All first cousins are called brothers and sisters, whether cross or parallel. 
Whether they are called older or younger depends on their actual age, not on 
the ages of the respective parents. 

Grandparent Class 

Kenu'u, father's father; and, reciprocally, a man's son's child. 

Togo'o, mother's father; and, reciprocally, a man's daughter's child. 

Mu'a, mother's mother; and, reciprocally, a woman's daughter's child. 

Hutsi'i, father's mother; and, reciprocally, a woman's son's child. 

Hebi 'i was given as father 's father 's mother, and reciprocally as a woman 's 
son 's son 's child. It probably has a wider meaning. It enters into composition 
with other terms to denote certain connections by marriage. In these com- 
pounds it appears to designate relationship less than three generations remote. 

Uncle Class 

Hai'i, father's brother. 

Fidu'u, mother's sister; also mother's co-wife, even if not related in blood. 

Atsi, mother's brother. 

Fahwa, father's sister. 

All these are used alike for the older and the younger brother or sister of 
the parent. Each has an exact reciprocal, which is, however, entirely different 
in sound. 

Huza, man's brother's child, reciprocal of hai'i. 

Mldo'o, woman's sister's child, reciprocal of pidu'u; also, child of a co-wife, 
even if unrelated in blood. 

Nanakwe, man's sister's child, reciprocal of atsi. 

Mido'o, woman's brother's child, reciprocal of pahwa. 

I suspect that mido'o, woman's sister's child, and mido'o, woman's brother's 
child, are the same, especially since I recorded both as accented on the second 
syllable, which is according to rule if the first vowel is short, whereas a long 
initial syllable carries the accent. It is not unlikely that mido'o has been 
extended from woman's sister's child to denote also her brother's child, re- 
placing a former adatsi, which survives in composition in the name which a 
woman applies to her brother's wife. 


University of California Publications in Am. Arch, and Ethn. [Vol. 12 

Farent-in-Law Class 

Yahi, father-in-law; mother-in-law. 

Togo-nna, son-in-law. This word means literally "father of the child of 
the daughter of a man," and logically is therefore usable only by males; but 
it is employed by women also, who have no other designation for a son-in-law. 

Kenu-j)ia, daughter-in-law. Again a man 's term used by women also : ' ' mother 
of the child of the son of a man." The word is a true compound, keau'-pia, 
not Jcenu"upia'. 

Hebi-yani, literally ' * woman 's son 's son 's child 's f ather-in-la%y, " or " father 's 
father's mother's father-in-law," was recorded with the meanings of father- 
in-law's father, father-in-law's mother, and father-in-law's paternal grand- 
mother. In the last instance the compound denotes one's wife's great-grand- 
mother, whereas hebi itself denotes one's own great-grandmother. I infer that 
hebi-yahi is applicable to a considerable range of affinities by marriage, its first 
element denoting that the person denoted is two or three generations older, and 
the second element having about the force of our "in-law"; much as we might 
describe an old lady as our " great -grandmother-in-law." 

Hebi'i togo-nna — an epithet of two words, not a compound — was given as 
the reciprocal of hebi-yahi, specifically used by a woman for her son's son's 
son-in-law — her great-grandson-in-law. 

Brother-in-Law Class 

Adatoi, wife's brother; man's sister's husband. Self -reciprocal. Also used 
between men as a friendly term of address when no relationship exists. 

Adatsi-pia, husband's sister; woman's brother's wife. Self -reciprocal. The 
word means ' ' mother of the adatsi. ' ' If the term was first used for the brother 's 
wife, adatsi must be an old name for a woman's brother's child. This inter- 
pretation is supported by the fact that the actually employed designation for 
a woman 's brother 's child is probably the same, and certainly nearly the same, 
as for a woman's sister's child — a uniting of relationships not in accord with 
the plan of the remainder of the Northern Paiute system. If, however, adatsi-pia 
was first used for the husband's sister, then adatsi must have meant husband's 
sister's child. In support of this interpretation is the similarity of adatsi — 
probably composed of a stem ada and the diminutive suffix -tsi — to adatoi. This 
word adatoi denotes a man's brother-in-law; but its former meaning may have 
been wider; since my informant stated that sisters-in-law sometimes called each • 
other adatoi, jokingly he thought. If adatoi ever meant brother-in-law or sister- 
in-law in general, its connection with adatsi could hatdly be doubted: adatoi 
being the brother-in-law, adatsi would be the "little brother-in-law," that is, 
the brother-in-law's son, or a junior relative of the husband, such as his sister's 
son; and the adatsi-pia, his mother, would in the latter case be the husband's 

It is difficult to decide between these two explanations. Yet, whichever is 
right, or if it be a third, the term adatsi-pia is descriptive and could originally 
not have applied to both the persons to whom it is now applied; for there is no 
group of relatives to whom two sisters-in-law can both be mothers. The term 
therefore once belonged to one of these relationships and has been extended to 
include the other, as it is now self -reciprocal, presumably through the operation 
of the inclination toward reciprocity. If this tendency is strong enough to 
cause a change of meaning of exactly descriptive terms until they become self- 
contradictory, its potential influence must be great, and should suffice to bring 
about even more considerable alterations of ordinary non-descriptive terms, 

1917] Kroeber: California Kinship Systems 361 

whose scope is readily extensible by analogy or metaphor without the production 
of a transparent logical clash. 

Nenai'i, husband's brother; woman's sister's husband. 

Huza-na-pia, wife's sister; man's brother's wife. The latter must be the 
original meaning, the former its extension — again etymologically inexact, unless 
double marriage of brother and sister to sister and brother had been the rule. 
Hiiza denoting a man's brother's child, the huza-na-pia is of course his brother's 

Nenai'i and huza-na-pia are mutually reciprocal, while the two other terms 
of this class, adatoi and adatsi-pia, are each self -reciprocal. A different grouping 
of the four meanings expressed by nenai'i and huza-na-pia would have made these 
also self-reciprocal. As it is undeniable that extensions or alterations of 
meaning have taken place in this class of terms, it is reasonable to consider 
why these changes did not operate in the direction of consistency, that is, of 
uniform self -reciprocity. The reason seems to be that in such case nenai'i and 
huza-na-pia would each have denoted both males and females. Under the 
existing system of Northern Paiute, however, each of its four terms of this 
class refers only to men or only to women, to wit; man's brother-in-law, woman's 
sister-in-law, woman's brother-in-law, man's sister-in-law. Eeciprocity must 
from its very nature interfere with the consistency with which certain conceptual 
factors entering into relationship (such as generation, sex of the speaker, and 
sex of the relative) are expressed; and the reverse is equally true. In the 
uncle and grandparent classes of Northern Paiute terms, where the reciprocity 
is complete — although only logical in one case and verbal as well in the other — 
the consistency of employment of the three conceptual factors or categories is 
thoroughly violated. In the brother-in-law class, on the other hand, complete 
uniformity of reciprocal expression is not attained, but every term is exact in 
its denotation of sex of the person referred to as well as the sex of the speaker. 

Husidnd and Wife 

Kuma, husband. 

Nodekwa, wife. 

The terms of address were not recorded. 

Woho, co-wife. A woman says l-woho', "my co-wife," in reference, but 
addresses her as l-hea'a, "my friend," if they are not sisters. As an address, 
l-woho is an insult. Na-wo'ho is used when a man's two wives are meant: na- 
is a reciprocal prefix. 


The Northern Paiute deny cross-cousin marriage, though my 
informant attributed it to the Shoshone on their east, who, he said, 
will marry their pahwa's daughter. This may, however, be only the 
expression of an opinion of the loose morality of the latter pepole, 
since Gilbert also mentioned that the Shoshone married their parallel 
cousins, which is scarcely possible. The brother-sister terminology for 
cross-cousins among the Paiute confirms their denial of the practice 
by themselves. 

Even first cousins once removed and second cousins cannot marry 
among Gilbert's people. This is certain for parallel cousins; but 

362 University of California Publications in Am. Aroh. and Etlin. [Vol. 12 

unfortunately my records do not allow me to assert the same rule 
positively for second cross-cousins, although I believe it applies. 

First half cousins, on the other hand, can and do marry. I secured 
an instance of the children of two half brothers marrying. Such 
half cousins were common among the Northern Paiute as the result 
of polygamous marriages by men. There seems to have been even 
some encouragement of half cousin marriage, as favoring a peaceable 
and permanent union; although if, as often happened, the half 
brothers lived in remote localities, a marriage of their children was 
likely to be terminated by the return of one of them to the old home 
when ties of blood and association called. 

Geography was otherwise a factor of importance in these matters, 
on account of the varying degree of acquaintance which it imposed. 
My informant's father and the latter 's half brother, who lived apart, 
arranged a marriage between a son of the former and the daughter 
of the latter. The girl was willing, but the young man, having pre- 
viously visited at her home, had got to calling her "sister," and 
refused to marry her on that ground. He had known her too long, 
he said. 

A man might marry a woman and her daughter — his stepdaughter, 
of course. This is a common practice of most of the California Indians. 


The stems of the Washo terms of relationship are used with pos- 
sessive prefixes, such as di-, my, um-, your, da-, his. A few words 
replace di- by di-m-, la-, or 1-, um- by mi-m- or m-. 

Parent Class 
Koi, father. ^. 

La, mother. 
Malolo, parents. 
Ngam, son. 
Ngamu, daughter. 
Ngaming, child. 

Brother Class 
At'u, older brother. 
Isa, older sister. 
Beyu, younger brother. 
Wits'uk, younger sister. 

Cousins are older or younger brothers and sisters according to their own ages, 
not those of their parents. 

11 Present series, iv, 309, 1907. 

1917] Kroeber : Calif ornia Kinship Systems 363 

Grandparent Class 
Baba, father's father, man's son's child. 
Elel, mother's father. 
Eleli, man's daughter's child. 
Ama, father's mother, woman's son's child. 
Gu, mother's mother. 
Guyi, woman's daughter's child. 

Uncle Class 
Eushi, father's brother; reciprocal, masha. 
Da, mother's brother; reciprocal, magu. 
Ya, father's sister; reciprocal, shemuk. 
Sha'sha, mother's sister. 

Masha, man's brother's child; reciprocal, eushi. 
Magu, man's sister's child; reciprocal, da. 
Shcmuk, woman's brother's child; reciprocal, ya. 

The term for woman's sister's child was not obtained with certainty. It 
may be shemuTc. See below. 

Parent-in-Law Class 
Ayulc, parent-in-law. 
Bu-angali ("lives with"), son-in-law. 
Eyesh, daughter-in-law. 

Brother-in-Law Class 

Uladut, man's sister's husband, wife's brother. Self -reciprocal. 

Bi-ngaming de' -eushi ("my child's father's brother"), husband's brother. 

Di-magu da-Tcoi ("my sister's child's father"), woman's sister's husband. 
This phrase does not necessarily prove that magu is the term which a woman 
applies to her sister's child: in Northern Paiute there are analogous cases of a 
woman using a man's term in descriptive phrases of this type, 

Bi-mash da-la ("my brother's child's mother"), man's brother's wife. This 
phrase was also obtained for wife's sister, but the latter meaning is in need of 

Yangil, woman 's brother 's wife, husband 's sister. Self -reciprocal. 

Husband and Wife 
Bu-meli, husband (meli, "to make a fire"). 
(M)laya, wife. 
The vocative terms are not known. 

Eeciprocity is consistently verbal and conceptual in the grandfather class, 
and conceptual only in the uncle class; it is not expressed in terms for relatives 
by marriage except in one brother-in-law and one sister-in-law term. 

The Washo and the Northern Paiute are the only tribes of those 
here considered who live east of the Sierra Nevada. Both extend 

364 University of California Publications in Am. Arch, and Ethn. [Vol. 12 

from Nevada into eastern California. Their customs are little known, 
but appear to be similar, though the languages are utterly distinct. 
Their kinship systems are practically identical. 

Parent class: father, mother, son, daughter. Washo adds a derivative for 
child and a term for parents. 

Brother class: older and younger brother and sister. 

Grandparent class: paternal and maternal grandfather and grandmother, each 
used reciprocally in the same form, except that two Washo grandchild terms 
add a suffix. Paiute has also a term for great-grandmother. 

Uncle class: four terms for parallel and cross uncle and aunt, and four exact 
conceptual reciprocals, which, however, bear no likeness in sound. In both languages 
there is some doubt whether there is a distinct term for woman's sister's child. 

Cousins: all are denominated brothers or sisters, seniority depending on their 
actual age. 

Parent-in-law class: parent-in-law, son-in-law (a descriptive term), daughter- 
in-law (descriptive in Paiute only). 

Brother-in-law class: man's brother-in-law, self -reciprocal; woman's sister- 
in-law, self -reciprocal (descriptive in Paiute only); man's brother's wife or 
wife's sister (descriptive); husband's brother or woman's sister's husband, 
denoted by a single non-descriptive word in Paiute and by two separate de- 
scriptive terms in Washo. 

The two systems could not well be more similar. Two alternative 
interpretations are open. Either we must assume that Washo and 
Northern Paiute institutions are identical and that institutions are 
perfectly reflected in kinship terminology; or we must admit that 
these two systems have attained their practical identity under the 
partial or dominating influence of similar ways of thinking, that is, 
that mental or linguistic causes have been operative. 

The Washo are in contact with the Miwok ; and the Washo-Paiute 
system is not very different from the Miwok- Yokuts one — certainly 
much more similar to it than to either the Wintun or the Mohave-. 
Luiseiio type of terminology. The greatest difference is in the cousin 
nomenclature, which could not well be more diverse. The Miwok 
terms of the grandparent class are also dissimilar: non-reciprocal 
grandfather, grandmother, and grandchild versus a scheme of four 
self-reciprocal terms each expressing the sex of the intermediate rela- 
tive.^^ Miwok, however, seems exceptional in this point. The southern 

12 It is a striking circumstance that the Miwok disregard this consideration, 
although its observance would bring their nomenclature into closer consonance 
with their social scheme of descent, whereas the Washo and Northern Paiute, 
who are not known to possess moieties, discriminate according to the factor. 
If terminology mirrors sociology, the Miwok should distinguish paternal grand- 
parent and maternal grandparent instead of grandfather and grandmother. 

1917] Kroeier: California Kinship Systems 365 

Yokuts, although geographically more distant than the Miwok, use 
terms of the exact Washo-Paiute type." The Miwok must therefore 
be regarded as occupying a distinctly anomalous position in their 
grandparent-grandchild terminology. This is borne out by the fact 
that the Wintun, Porno, and Yuki, who tend to merge grandchildren 
in children or nephew-nieces, and therefore, like the Miwok, express 
no reciprocity in this class, nevertheless generally distinguish paternal 
from maternal grandparents. To the south, the Mohave and Luiseiio 
express both lineage and at least conceptual reciprocity ; and the same 
seems to have been the practice of the Salinans and Chumash, so far 
as the fragmentary evidence allows judgment. The divergence of 
the Miwok system from that of the Washo and Northern Paiute at 
this point is therefore not characteristic of type, but due to a Miwok 

At most other points Washo and Miwok correspond fairly, or 
about as well as Miwok and southern Yokuts. The parent and brother 
classes are substantially identical. The uncle class differs in that the 
Miwok merge parallel relatives in parents, except for the mother's 
sisters, among whom they distinguish seniority. This seems another 
Miwok specialization, since Yokuts is more similar to Washo. The 
parent-in-law class is similar in that the father-in-law and mother-in- 
law class are merged and that there is no reciprocity. The brother- 
in-law relatives are differently classified ; but the force of this diverg- 
ence is weakened by the marked difference of Yokuts from both. The 
Miwok terms for three-step connections by marriage, finally, are unrep- 
resented in both Washo and Northern Paiute ; but this class seems 
again to present a Miwok individuality, being lacking, or practically 
so, in all other Californian systems, as far as we know. Just so, the 
descriptive terms of Washo and Northern Paiute are an evident 
peculiarity, since they are found only among the Luiseiio and not 
among any nearer tribes in California. 

On the whole, therefore, while Washo and Northern Paiute form 
an exceedingly intimate group, they also have tolerable affiliations to 
south central California. They are certainly at least as near and 
probably nearer to Miwok- Yokuts than these are to Luiseno-Mohave. 
On the other hand, Miwok evinces a number of specializations from 
which southern Yokuts is free; the latter on the whole is therefore 
more similar than Miwok to the Nevadan systems. 

13 Except that there is only term for grandfather, though this remains self- 

366 University of California Publications in Am. Arch, and Ethn. [Vol. 12 


Mr. Gifford has described^* the systems of these two Shoshoiiean 
tribes of the southern Sierra Nevada, neighbors of the southern Yokuts. 
They are similar to each other and in general type very close to 
Northern Paiute. The chief differences from the latter are the 
following : 

Kawaiisu has terms for great-grandfather, son, mother, and daughter — 
diminutives from the stems for older and younger brother and sister. Tiiba- 
tulabal has a word for great-grandparent apparently borrowed from the Kawaiisu 
one for great-grandfather, and employs a diminutive thereof as a reciprocal. 

Kawaiisu applies its terms for cross uncle and aunt only to the younger 
brother or sister of the parent. The father's older brother is classed with the 
father, the mother's older sister with the mother. The Tiibatulabal scheme is 
like the Northern Paiute one. 

Both languages, like adjacent Yokuts, alter the terms for connections by 
marriage after the death of the intermediate relative. The means employed 
are suffixes. In addition, Tiibatulabal possesses a special term holci, used be- 
tween grandparents and grandchildren after the death of the father or mother. 

Both languages possess special terms applied only to the blood father and 
the blood mother before the loss of any child. 

Tiibatulabal expresses ' ' son ' ' and ' ' daughter " by a single word and ' ' younger 
brother" and "younger sister" by one. 

The Kawaiisu terms of the brother-in-law class tally exactly with those of 
Northern Paiute. The Tiibatulabal ones are doubtful. No one of Mr. Gifford 's 
half dozen informants yielded them alike. Not one of the lists reduces to the 
Kawaiisu scheme even when the number of terms is reduced from five to four 
by counting two as a single one. Mr. Gifford suggests Yokuts influence on the 
Tiibatulabal system on this point, and I have no doubt he is right. But I 
have been equally unable to make the arrangement of any of his informants 
fit the Yaudanchi or Yauelmani plan. There are only two conclusions that 
suggest themselves. Either the Tiibatulabal system has broken dowm at this 
point in the last sixty years under American and Mexican contact, or original 
Shoshonean and subsequent Yokuts influences have mingled and reduced the 
Tiibatulabal scheme to a transitional and inconsistent stage. Possibly the latter 
condition existed first and caused an unusual lack of resistance under the effect 
of our civilization. 


These systems collected by Mr. Gifford, with two others recorded 
by Dr. Sapir and included in full in the same study, and Luisefio and 
Northern Paiute, make six that are available from the Shoshonean 
family and allow a broader comparison than has been possible here- 

" Present series, xii, 219-248, 1917. 


Kroeber: California Kinship Systems 


tofore. I give first the words used to express several of the more 
elementary relationships. 









Tiibatuldbal Luiseno 







kumu, ana^ na ' 







iimii, abu' yo 

Older sister 





kuchi kes 

Father's father 




aka ka '* 

Mother's mother 





utsu tu ' 

Mother's father 

togo 'o 




agist kwa 

Mother's brother 





kali tash 

Father's sister 





pauwa pa-mai 






wasu-mbis (descriptive)' 






wUni (descriptive) 

' Blood parent before loss of any child. 

^ Younger brother of the mother. 

^ Any grandfather. 

* Fathers' parent. 

^ A woman says ka', father's parent. 

It is clear that the stems that are used to denote the same relation- 
ship are very variable. The Kawaiisu, Uintah Ute, and Kaibab Paiute 
idioms are all of the Ute-Chemehuevi division and very close to one 
another. They may be said to differ only dialectically. Northern 
Paiute belongs to the same Plateau branch of the family, but deserves 
to be reckoned as a distinct language. Nearly half of its stems for 
kindred are different. Tiibatulabal and Luiseno are linguistically 
somewhat remote from the others, but certainly no more than Greek 
is from Latin or German from Slavic ; yet the majority of their stems 
are new. 

Analogous results appear when the procedure is reversed and the 
meanings of identical stems are compared. 

Tua, tuwu, towa, tuwa means son in all four of the Plateau dialects; tumu 
is son or daughter in Tiibatulabal. 

Nama'i, nami is younger sister in Kawaiisu, Ute, and Kaibab Paiute; nalawi 
is younger brother or sister in Tiibatulabal. 

Shinu is mother's brother in Kawaiisu, shina-nchi mother's younger brother 
in Ute, shina- male cousin in Kaibab. 

Mawu is mother's older sister in Ute, mawii mother's older sister or mother 
who has not lost a child in Kawaiisu, mangwu'i- female cousin in Kaibab. 

Piyu in Kawaiisu denotes only the mother who has not lost a child; in the 
other three Plateau dialects the term pia, pie, piya means mother, without being 
so limited. 

Luiseiio tu', mother's mother, appears to correspond to Plateau togo'o, togo, 
togu, toho, which always denotes the mother's father. 

368 University of California Publications in Am. Arch, and Ethn. [Vol. 12 

Luiseno Tea ', father 's father or father 's mother, seems to be from the stem 
of Kawaiisu kagu, Ute Icagu, Kaibab Tcahu, all of which denote the mother's 
mother; while Luiseno Icwa, mother's father, perhaps is the etymological equiv- 
alent of Plateau Jcenu'u, Tcuno, Iconu, father's father. These correspondences are 
not certain, and perhaps they should be interchanged; but if they hold either 
way, there has been a specific alteration of meaning. 

These two comparisons in conjunction make it clear that terms of 
relationship have a history quite like that of all other words. They 
alter in meaning, become obsolete, drop out of usage altogether, and 
new stems, which originally had another significance, come to take 
their places. If kinship terms are more conservative than most other 
parts of a language's vocabulary, the difference is merely one of 
degree. Whether they are more conservative is a subject neither for 
reasoning nor for assumption, but a problem of fact to be established 
by purely philological comparison. In short, kinship terms are an 
integral part of the tongues in which they occur and are therefore 
subject to linguistic influences like all other words. This being so, 
they cannot be a perfect nor even a reliable mirror of institutions. 


I secured an outline of the Southeastern Wintun system as used 
in the vicinity of Colusa. It is so extraordinary that I include it 
for comparative purposes, although Mr. Gifford subsequently obtained 
fuller and better verified lists from several parts of the Southeastern 
and Southwestern Wintun territory. It appears that I have missed 
one or two terms ; but the skeleton of the system as here presented is 
substantially correct. 

Wintun terms are used with possessive affixes, but differ so much 
for the first and second persons that it is desirable to give_both forms. 
In general, "my" is -cliu, and "your" is mat-. 

Parent Class 
tan-cJiu, ma-tan, father, father's brother. 
na-lcu, ma-nin, mother, mother's sister. 
te-chu, mat-mutle, son, daughter, man's brother's child, woman's sister's child. 

Brother Class 
laia-chu, mat-laben, older brother. 
otun-chu, mat-usun, older sister. 
tlan-chu, ma-tlan, younger brother or sister. 
The method of application of brother-sister terms to cousins was not learned. 

1917] Kroeher: California Kinship Systems 369 

Grandparent and Uncle Class 

apa-chu, mat-apan, mother's brother, mother's father, father's father, great- 

ama-hu, mat-aman, father's sister,i5 mother's mother; presumably also great- 

sakan-cMi, mat-saJcan, father's mother.ic 

tai-chu, ma-tai, woman's brother's childis or man's sister's child, that is, 
any cross nephew or niece; also, any grandchild; presumably also any great- 

Father-in-Law Class 
tes-ba or tes-win, ma-tes, parent-in-law or child-in-law. Tes-win, which seems 
to contain the stem for "person" (cf. Wintun, Patwin), is used only for the 
son-in-law; tes-ba denotes the daughter-in-law and either parent-in-law. In the 
second person the suffixes disappear and the terms are identical. 

Brotlier-in-Law Class 
tiran-chu, ma-tiran, sister's husband. 
boJcsen-cJiu, mat-holcsen, brother's wife. 
nai-tlen, ma-tlen, spouse's brother or sister. 


The extreme condensation of this remarkable system would tend 
to prevent any considerable reciprocity. In fact, there is none dis- 
cernible, unless the two forms from the stem tes be looked upon as a 
single self-reciprocating term. 

The uncle class has been totally merged in the parent and grand- 
parent classes. This may be a carrying further of the Miwok principle 
by which the parallel uncle is called father. However, Miwok does 
not merge cross-uncles with grandparents, nor cross-nephews with 
grandchildren, whereas there is some inclination toward the classing 
together of nephews and grandchildren among the Pomo and Yuki 
who are near neighbors of the Wintun. The latter people seem there- 
fore to have used the simplifying tactics peculiar to the systems on 
both sides of themselves. 

The Wintun also agree with the Miwok in naming only one grand- 
father, but with the Pomo and Yuki in distinguishing the paternal 
from the maternal grandmother, if there is no error about saJcan-chu. 

The Wintun brother-in-law terms correspond with the Miwok ones, 
except that there is only a single equivalent to three of the latter: 

15 Mr. Giflford 's informants gave the term for older sister as denoting the 
father's sister, and for younger sister as denoting a woman's brother's child. 

16 This term was not obtained by Mr. Gifford, whose informants included the 
father's with the mother's mother under ama-Jcu. Salcan-chu must therefore be 
considered doubtful. 

370 University of California Publications in Am. Arch, and Ethn. [Vol. 12 

wokli, kolina, and apasti. Porno, however, is still more similar to 
Miwok, the terms having the same signification throughout except 
that there is a single term instead of kolina and apasti. 

It therefore seems that there are certain tendencies of terminolog- 
ical classification more or less common to the Miwok, Wintun, and 
Pomo, and several in which they differ ; and that Wintun utilizes any 
of these methods that aid reduction of nomenclature. The result is 
a system even more compact that the English one, and as free from 
reciprocity, but constructed on utterly different principles. 


Parent Class 

E, father; harik, my father; address: hariTca. 

Te, mother; nilc, my mother; address: nika. 

Ghawe-l-ip, son; any grandson; anl nephew except a man's sister's son. This 
term seems connected with hawi, boy, and mi-p, he. Address: harika, as for 

Ghawe-l-et, daughter; any granddaughter; any niece except a man's sister's 
daughter. Evidently connected with hawi, boy, and mi-t, she. Address: nika, 
as for mother. 

Esh, son or daughter, presumably also grandchild, nephew, or niece. A term 
of endearment or ceremonial usage. In address: esha. 

Brother Class 
Meh, older brother; address: meha. 
Deh, older sister; address: deha. 
Duhats, younger brother or sister; address: duhatsa. 

Grandfather Class 

Madili, father 's father ; address, the same. This word denotes also the father 's 
father's father. Among the Eastern Pomo south of Clear Lake, it includes the 
father's older brother; but this is not so among the people on the north side of 
the lake. 

Mats, father's mother; address: matsa. 

Gach, mother's father; also his brother and his father. This inclusion of 
the great- uncle (or aunt) and gi'eat-grandparent seems to apply to all Pomo 
grandparent terms. In address, gacha. 

Ghats, mother's mother; address: ghatsa. 

There are no terms for grandchildren. The words chiefly employed are the 
"boy" or "child" derivatives used for son and daughter, it is said; but a 
reciprocation by the grandparents to the grandchildren is not unknown. In 
this case the reciprocity seems to be exact, i.e., madili denotes a man's son's 
son or daughter, and so on. 

17 Eastern dialect, of Clear Lake. See present series, xi, 320-346, 1911. 

1917J Krocber: California Kinship Systems 371 

Uncle Class 

Keh, father's brother, also stepfather; in address, keha. On the death of a 
married man his brother generally married the widow. His step-children, however, 
continued to call him keh, not harik, father. See madili, above. 

Weh, father's sister; address: weha. 

Tsets, mother's brother; address: tsetsa. The reciprocal is dah. 

Tuts, mother's older sister; address: tutsa. 

Sheh, mother's younger sister, stepmother; address: sheha. 

Dah, man's sister's child, boy or girl; in address, daha. This is the reciprocal 
of tsets. It is said to be the only term of nephew-niece type in Pomo, son or 
daughter being used in all other cases. 

Father-in-Law Class 

Sha, father-in-law, mother-in-law. 

Dimot, son-in-law. This word is said to denote one who supplies or gives 
in return for favors, and can be used of a woman who visits her lover more or 
less regularly. 

Shomits, daughter-in-law. 

On account of a species of the parent-in-law taboo, these three terms are 
not used in address, but the plural demonstrative pronoun, hibek, "those" or 
"they," is substituted. Or, at greater length, a father-in-law may be addressed 
as butsigi hibek, "old man those"; a mother-in-law as daghara hibek, "old woman 
those": a child-in-law as esh-bek, "child those." Even in reference to the 
relatives in question the plural hibek can be added. The brothers, fathers, 
uncles, etc., of the parents-in-law are also addressed in this polite way; and 
presumably the old people apply the form of deference to their children-in-law's 
brothers and sisters. If the spouse dies, the former parents and children-in-law 
continue to address one another as if he or she were still living. If the marriage 
is broken off, they revert to normal singular forms. 

Brother-in-Law Class 

God, sister's husband; also his brother, and, it seems, his sister. In address, 

Mi, brother's wife; also her sister, and, it seems, her brother. 

Ha, wife 's brother or sister. Reciprocal to god. 

Ghar, husband's brother or sister. Reciprocal to mi. 

Brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law are addressed directly, without pluralizing 

Husband and Wife 
Baili, husband; also kak, "man"; in address, butsigi, "old man." 
Dat, wife; also da, "woman"; in address, daghara, "old woman." 
Giashi is a vocative term of endearment used reciprocally by husband and wife. 


With the Pomo we encounter a reversion from the extreme re- 
duction of the Wintun system. There is a marked tendency to class 
juniors under as few designations as possible ; and this suffices to 
prevent any great development of reciprocity. Four terms, however, 

372 University of California Publications in Am. Arch, and Ethn. [Vol. 12 

reappear for grandparents, and there are specific uncle-aunt desig- 
nations ; so that in this point we are back at the general Calif ornian 
practice common to Washo, Northern Paiute, Yokuts, and Tiibatu- 
labal. The distinction of the mother's sisters according to age is too 
widespread in the region to be regardable as a specific Miwok re- 
semblance. The brother-in-law terms equal the Miwok ones, at least 
in involved plan, and express conceptual reciprocity. The special 
three-step terms of the Miwok are unrepresented, terms of two-step 
relationship being extended to cover them, as apparently by most the 
tribes of California. Conceptual reciprocity is found in the one word 
of the nephew class ; and there is an incipient or obsolescent tendency 
toward self-reciprocity in the grandparent group. In short, the Pomo 
system shares some of the individualized traits of the Wintun and 
Miwok plans, but in other respects is on a generic Californian basis. 


I failed to secure either a complete or a wholly consistent Yuki 
system. Dr. S. A. Barrett, while on a visit to Eound Valley Reser- 
vation, undertook to supply the deficiencies ; but his material proved 
insufficient for entire clearness, and showed apparent contradictions 
in the terms for the same classes of kindred in which I had encoun- 
tered difficulties, namely, uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces, and grand- 
children. I suspect a factor of classification to be involved here which 
both our inquiries failed to reach. The data on these groups of 
relatives must therefore be used with reserve. 

Parent Class 
K'un, father. 
K'an, mother. 
K'il-(i), son, daughter. 

Brother Class ■ 
K'ich, older brother, older sister. 
La'n, younger brother. 
Mu'n, younger sister. 

Vncle Class 
KaiH, father's brother, stepfather. 
KiTcan, mother's older brother. 
AiH, mother's younger brother. 

Pa"chet and p'oyam were both obtained for father's sistei 
NaP't, mother's sister, probably older. 

1917] Kroeber: California Kinship Systems 373 

Ka^sh, mother's sister, probably younger; stepmother. 

Difficulty and confusion were experienced in securing these terms from 
informants. The possibility must be reckoned with that some of the terms 
differ radically as they are used in reference or address; or that other factors 
are involved. 

ChaH-lca», man's brother's child, woman's sister's child, that is, parallel 
nephew or niece; or, as it might be defined, potential stepchild. 

Ipima or ipimich-]ca^>, man's sister's child. 

Kup was obtained with the same meaning; it may be a term of address only. 

Omsa-lca^, woman's brother's child. Some informants add woman's sister's 
child, and man's sister's daughter, but this seems unlikely. 

Grandparent Class 

Osh, father's father. 

Pit, mother's father. 

Pop, father's mother. 

Tit, mother 's mother. 

Asam-ap-ha^< , son's child. 

Asam-cha'H-lca^i , am-chant-Jca" , daughter's child. Evidently from cha^'t-lca" , 
parallel nephew-niece. 

Informants were not wholly consistent as to the meaning of the two grand- 
child terms. 

Parent-in-Law Class 
O 'l-am, parent-in-law. 
Wit(-i), son-in-law. 
Kim(-a), daughter-in-law. Sut-am was obtained with the same meaning. 

Brother-in-Law Class 

La^'ya^', wife's brother. 

Chat, wife's sister, brother's wife. 

Ta^shit, husband's sister, husband's brother, sister's husband. 

Chat and ta"shit are reciprocal; that is, any woman called chat says ta'"shit 
to the man or woman so addressing her. The reciprocal of la^'ya"', however, is 
also ta^shit. 

These terms were obtained identically by Dr. Barrett and myself, and may 
therefore be relied upon. 

In spite of the imperfection of the record, it can probably be 
inferred that the Yuki system is once more of the generic Central 
Californian type. The resemblance of grandchild and nephew terms 
indeed is evidence of some influence of the inclinations that have 
shaped the Wintun system and in part that of the Pomo. But the 
terminology for uncles and aunts, that for grandparents, and an 
apparently moderate degree of conceptually reciprocal expression — 
self-reciprocal terms have not been found — indicate that the Yuki 
system is sprung from the same basis as that which has originated the 
systems of the Washo, Northern Paiute, and Yokuts. 

374 University of California Publications in Am. Arch, and Ethn. [Vol. 12 


All terms were obtained with one of the suffixes ne- or n-, my, ke- 
or k-, your, and we- or u-, his, her. There are also suffixes, especially 
-osh, which are not part of the stem. Most of the terms are verified 
by information independently obtained by Dr. T. T, Waterman. 

Father Class 

Ne-pshets, u-pshits, father. The term of address is tot, but we-tot-osh, his 
father, was also obtained. The difference between the two stems is not clear. 
It is not one of sex of the speaker. 

We-ts-eko or u-Jcolc-osh, mother. In address: Tcok. 

There are no words meaning son or daughter. N-oulcshu is "my child," 
ne-megwahshe "my boy" or "son," ne-weryernerJcsh "my girl" or "daughter." 

Brother Class 

Ne-mits-osh or ne-mit-osh, older brother. 

Ne-pin-osh, older sister. 

Kits-pe'l, older brother or sister. Probably from pe'lin, large. 

Tseihlceni, ne-eihlc-eu, younger brother or sister. TseihJceni means ' ' small. ' ' 

Tsits or chich, vocative, and ne-choch-osh, first person, were obtained by Dr. 
Waterman as meaning younger brother or sister. 

Ne-pa', brother, male cousin, or more distant male relative of a man. 

Ne-weyits, sister, female cousin, or more distant female relative of a man. 

Nc-Jai, brother, male cousin, or more distant female relative of a woman. 
Dr. Waterman gives an apparent contraction: let. 

The first five of these terms, which refer to age, and the last four, which 
express sex, overlap. The former have more or less exact equivalents in all 
the Californian languages. The latter are of a much rarer type, but similar 
terms recur among the neighboring Karok, so that a secondary development local 
to northwestern California may be involved. 

Grandparent Class 

Ne-pits-osh, grandfather, as in English, that is, both the father's father and 
the mother's father. 

Ne-kuts-osh, grandmother. 

Ne-k'ep-eu, grandchild. Also used for nephew and niece, in addition to the 
terms specifically denoting these relationships. 

Uncle Class 

Ne-ts-im-osh, father's brother; mother's brother; that is, "uncle" as in 

Ne-tul-osh, mother's sister; father's sister; that is, "aunt" as in English. 

Ne-k-tsum, brother's or sister's son, that is, "nephew" as in English. 

Ner-ramets, brother's or sister's daughter, that is, "niece" as in English. 

All four of these terms are also used for relatives of the cousin class, which see. 

Ne-k'ep-eu, grandchild, is sometimes also employed for nephews and nieces. 
I base this statement on concrete cases within my experience. Conversely, I 
have had ne-pits-osh, grandfather, translated as mother's brother, and ne-tul-osh, 

1917] Kroeher: California Kinship Systems 375 

aunt, as father's mother; but I have no cases to support these definitions and 
they may be errors. 

First cousins can apparently be designated by the four generic brother-sister 
terms that lack age reference. My examples, however, yield the terms for 
nephew, niece, and uncle, to which, presumably, the one for aunt must be added. 
The principle determining which of two cousins is the "uncle" or "aunt" and 
which the "nephew" or "niece" is not altogether certain, but appears to be 
absolute age. The selection of terms is not dependent on cross or parallel cousin- 

Parent-in-Law Class 

Ne-par-eu, father-in-law. 

Ne-ts-iwin, mother-in-law. 

Ne-ts-ne 'uk-osh, son-in-law. 

Ne-Tceptsum, daughter-in-law. 

Ne-kwa, father-in-law or mother-in-law of one's son or daughter. Self- 
reciprocal. Dr. Waterman 's informant makes this term include all connections 
by marriage more remote than parents, children, brothers, and sisters-in-law. 

Ne-ts-Jcer, any relative by marriage after death of the connecting member. 

Brother-in-law Class 

Ne-tei, wife 's brother ; man 's sister 's husband. Self -reciprocal : man 's brother- 

Ni-ts-nin, husband's sister; woman's brother's wife; man's brother's wife; 
wife's sister; in short, any sister-in-law. 

Ni-ts-no'o, husband's brother; woman's sister's husband; that is, woman's 

Changes for Death 
Dr. Waterman reports the following terms for deceased relatives: 
Ne-me-ni'iyun, "my dead grew-up-together, " deceased brother or sister. 
Ne-me-tsameyotl, dead uncle. 

Ne-me-Tc-tsum, or Tcotl n-oukshu, ' ' dead my-child, ' ' deceased nephew. 
Ne-me-pets-eu, dead grandfather. 
Ne-me-Tce-Jcts-eu, dead grandmother. 


The Yurok system stands quite apart from any other yet recorded 
in California. The failure to distinguish between grandparents, 
grandchildren, uncles, aunts, nephews, and nieces according to their 
male or female lineage seems extraordinary after acquaintance with 
the kinship reckonings of the other Californians. Civilized influences 
can not be thought of in this connection, for if there is any tribe in 
the state that preserved the substance of its old life intact until 
recently it is the remote Yurok. 

376 University of California Publications in Am. Arch, and Ethn. [Vol. 12 

Separation of relatives in the male and female line is so frequently 
accompanied by a development of true reciprocal expression in Cali- 
fornia, in the Great Basin region, and in the Southwest that the two 
phenomena must be taken in connection. As might be anticipated, 
the Yurok evince little feeling for reciprocity, not only in the kinship 
classes just mentioned but in the other group which lends itself readily 
to reciprocal formulation, the relatives by marriage. This is the more 
remarkable because in the Oregon region, as instanced by the Takelma 
and the Chinook, systems of California-Plateau-Southwestern type 
seem again to prevail. It is necessary to look as far as the Coast 
Salish, or the tribes of the eastern United States, before terminologies 
of the general plan of the Yurok one are again encountered. As the 
Yurok are Algonkin, the interesting problem is raised whether it is 
possible that they have brought the outlines of an ancient system 
with them from their presumable eastern source of origin, and suc- 
ceeded in maintaining the same for an undoubtedly long period in 
an entirely different cultural setting. 

This query can be answered only after we know the kinship systems 
of the tribes immediately adjacent to the Yurok : the fellow Algonkin 
Wiyot; the Athabascan Hupa, Tolowa, and Chilula; and the Hokan 
Karok. It may prove that we have to deal with a surviving and re- 
invigorated importation; or, on the other hand, with a new local 
development due to obscurer causes. 

The two or perhaps three classes of brother-sister designations in 
Yurok are very interesting, but more must be known concerning the 
distribution of the phenomenon, as well as of the etymology of the 
words -in question, before a satisfactory interpretation is possible. 


Kindred removed by three steps of relationship, such as the great- 
grandfather or brother-in-law's parent,^* can of course be designated 
in all languages, either by compounds, by more or less descriptive 
additions, or by mere extension of meaning of the terms denoting 
nearer kin. Some systems, however, contain specific designations for 
certain three-step relations — like English "cousin." Such terms 
average two or three in number in the Californian systems, but their 
frequency as well as their meanings vary greatly according to language. 

18 1 count the brother, sister, and wife as one step removed. 

1917] Kroeher: California Kinship Systems 377 

The commonest three-step term is the self-reciprocal one denoting 
the parent of a child-in-law. This forms part of the Luiseiio, Kawaiisii, 
Tiibatulabal, Yokuts, Miwok, and Northern Paiute systems. These 
are all found in southern and central California or Nevada. If the 
gaps in our knowledge were filled, the distribution of terms with this 
meaning would probably be found to be continuous. On the other 
hand, there is an area in north central California in which specific 
terms for the child-in-law 's parent have not been found. In this 
area are the Wintun, Pomo, Yuki, and perhaps Washo. For some of 
these information may be imperfect ; but, on the other hand, the area 
may extend much farther northward. Mohave is also not known to 
possess a term of this significance. This may be due to mere over- 
sight in recording, or to proximity of the Mohave to the Pueblo 
Indians, who do without. In the northwest, however, the relationship 
is expressed in Yurok, though possibly the primary meaning of the 
term is more general. 

Great-grandparents and great-grandchildren are next most fre- 
quently denoted. Again Mohave stands out from a central and 
southern group, which consists of Luiseiio, Kawaiisu, Tiibatulabal, 
Yokuts, and Northern Paiute. The terminology in most of these is 
obviously secondary : derivatives from words meaning brother or sister, 
mother's sister, and ghost occur. Sex is sometimes denoted and some- 
times not ; the number of terms varies from one to four. In Luiseiio 
there are terms for ancestors as far removed as the sixth generation. 
Miwok, the three north central systems, and Yurok lack words of this 
class, ancestors or descendants of the third generation being merged 
in those of the second. Mohave uses outright brother terms. 

Specific cousin terms are restricted to the extreme south. Luiseiio 
possesses one for cross-cousins, Mohave three or four narrowly limited 
words for particular kinds of parallel and cross-cousins. 

Luiseiio is the only language known to have a term for grand- 
mother's brother or grandfather's sister. Several other relationships 
are included, but they are all three step. 

Miwok, finally, has specialized in developing four terms to denote 
kindred of relatives-in-law : haiyeme, Jcumatsa, moe, pinuksa. 

The peculiar Miwok terms may possibly be connected with a type 
of kin marriage that is best known among this group; though the 
correlation remains to be established. The cousin, great-grandparent, 
and child-in-law 's parent terms, on the other hand, fail quite clearly 
to correlate in their distribution with any social practices. The last 

378 University of California Publications in Am. Arch, and Uthn. [Vol. 12 

might be thought to be associated with parent-in-law taboo ; but, Mobile 
still imperfectly known, the spread of this custom seems to run with- 
out relevance to that of the term. It is therefore difficult to avoid 
the conclusion that the occurrence of all these classes of terms is due 
to a merely conceptual attitude — a habit of mind or manner of thought 
which, originating among one people, w^as often gradually imitated by 


The twelve systems that have been analyzed fall spontaneously 
into three classes. The first comprises the Mohave and Luiseiio, both 
in southern California. The second consists, in the present state of 
knowledge, of Yurok alone. The third includes all the remainder, 
from the Yuki in the west and north to the Northern Paiute in the 
east and the Yokuts and Kawaiisu in the south. The geographical 
distribution of these three types, which have been established solely 
on the basis of what seems to be their inherent nature, coincides with 
the distribution of types of native civilization generally accepted for 
California ; in other words, the three primary culture areas — the 
Southern, the Northwestern, and the Central. 

Within the central group of kinship systems a generic and a 
specialized subtype are distinguishable. The former is represented 
by Yokuts; by Northern Paiute and Washo, which must be treated 
as a unit ; by Tiibatulabal and Kawaiisu ; and probably by Yuki. No 
two of these systems are alike, but their differences are particularities 
of comparatively little moment as against their similar features. All 
of them are peripheral in the territory in which they occur. As the 
center of this tract is approached marked divergences begin to appear 
on the one side among the Pomo and on the other with the Miwok, 
until, in the heart of the area, among the southern "Wintun, the 
specializing tendencies reach their height. 

The characteristics of the southern Californian type of kinship 
are an enormous development of reciprocal expression, and a striking 
reduction of the terms denoting connections by marriage. Perhaps 
equally important intrinsically is the consistent recognition of the 
factor of lineage, as expressed terminologically in the distinction of 
cross and parallel relatives; but this is not an exclusive southern 
peculiarity. All of these traits seem typical also of the systems of the 

1917] Kroeher: California Kinship Systems 379 

Southwest, with which region southern California has many cultural 

The central Californian type, in its generic and presumably 
original form, is marked by consistent reciprocity within the grand- 
parent and uncle classes of terms, but little at other points ; by the 
distinction of cross and parallel relatives throughout ; and by a fairly 
elaborate development of nomenclature for connections by marriage, 
parents-in-law, however, being denoted by a single term. This type 
of system seems to extend with but little variation across the Great 
Basin, whose Shoshonean inhabitants, it may be added, are culturally 
somewhat affiliated with the central Californians. 

The specialized southern Wintun subtype is characterized by an 
extreme merging of relationships into one another, and a consequently 
small number of terms. This tendency has completely wiped out two 
of the three traits typical of the generic central form of system : the 
reciprocity and the abundance of affinity designations. The third 
feature, the consciousness of kind of lineage as expressed in difference 
of terms for parallel and cross kindred, remains in vigor only in the 
uncle class. Perhaps the salient trait of the system is the merging 
of near lineal with near collateral relatives as a consequence of the 
general reduction in terminology. The Miwok and Pomo follow the 
Wintun scheme less radically, and add certain characteristics of their 
own which must be looked upon as local individualizations. 

The northwest Californian type, finally, if Yurok may be regarded 
as indicative of such a one and is not merely representative of its 
own particularity, disregards the distinction of cross and parallel 
relatives and reveals virtually no impulse toward reciprocal expression. 
The Yurok, to put it differently, come much nearer ourselves and the 
majority of Plains Indians than do any central or south California 
people in thinking in nearly every instance of the sex of the denoted 
relative^" and only rarely of the sex of the intermediate one.^° 

There are some scattering data on several tribes not formally 
treated here. In general, these indicate systems of the type prevailing 
in the region of each tribe. 

The available Costanoan data^^ are in contradictory shape, but it 

19 English, in 95 per cent of cases; Arapaho, Dakota, Pawnee, 90; Yurok, 85; 
other Californians, 60 to 80. 

20 English, per cent; the three Plains tribes, 10 to 30; Yurok, 20 (wholly 
among connections by marriage) ; Wintun, about the same; other Californians, 
40 to 60. 

21 Present series, xi, 437, 471, 1916. 

380 University of California Publications in Am. Aroli. and Ethn. [Vol. 12 

is clear that there was some merging of nephews and grandsons and 
probably of uncles and grandparents; in other words, a definite 
affiliation with the Wintun subtype. 

Salinan, from whose two dialects thirty-four terms of relationship 
have been preserved,-- though very variously rendered, does not show 
this trait. On the other hand, there is conceptual without verbal 
reciprocity in the grandparent and uncle classes. Indications there- 
fore point to Salinan belonging to the generic central type. 

Chumash-^ is also central in character, with some leanings toward 
the southern type, as manifested, for instance, in distinct words used 
for "son" by father and mother. The primary distinction among 
grandparents appears to be on the basis of lineage, and among brothers 
and sisters on the ground of seniority, the denotation of sex being 
wanting or incidental. In the uncle class there are indications of 
four terms for seniors and four for juniors, exactly reciprocal but 
verbally distinct. The father-in-law and mother-in-law are denoted 
by one word. 

For the Northwest, there are scraps from three languages. Wiyot, 
if the translations of its half dozen known terms may be trusted,-* 
is of Yurok type. Hupa-^ may have grandfather and grandmother 
terms of English and Yurok type, but the uncle-aunt nomenclature 
is likely to be generic Californian. Chimariko,^" finally, gives no 
evidence of leaning to Yurok methods. Uncertain as these meager data 
are, they hint that Yurok is representative of a specific California- 
Algonkin rather than a Northwestern Californian type. 

A theoretical inference emerges from the distributional coinci- 
dence of types of kinship systems and types of culture in California. 
The correspondence can scarcely be accidental and meaningless. The 
type of culture must therefore be regarded as having helped to shape 
the kinship system. Now, the three Californian cultures differ but 
little in specific content. Nearly all the arts and ideas of one tribe 
recur among all the others. An inspection of a balanced museum 
collection from the various groups in the state invariably yields the 
impression of great uniformity, except as to finer detail ; and reviews 

22 Same, x, 169-172, 1912. 

23 Same, ii, 42, 1904, and a few unpublished notes from Santa Barbara. 

24 Same, ix, 407, 1911. 

25 Same, m, 15, 1905. 

26 Same, v, 352, 363-370, 1910. 

1917] Kroeher: California Kinship Systems 381 

of the immaterial elements of civilization have always led to the same 
conclusion. There are distinctive customs and practices: slavery and 
plank houses in the northwest, masks and moieties in the central 
region, sand paintings and emergence myths in the south ; but relative 
to the totality of cultural facts such peculiarities are few. 

What, then, constitutes the reality and the essence of the cultural 
types prevailing in the three regions? Obviously, if it is not the 
substance of culture, it is its form ; if not the discrete elements in any 
important degree, then their organization. An art or a custom may 
be practiced both in the south and in the northwest, but its emphasis 
or weighting be quite diverse, its associations and therefor^ its sig- 
nificance be thoroughly distinct. In short, the values of closely 
similar material are notably different. This is true of course of all 
cultural types as determined by history and ethnology and framed 
in culture areas or cultural periods. But in a compact and restricted 
territory such as California constitutes, the similarity of the civil- 
izational material has an opportunity to be so high as to reach sub- 
stantial identity; and its formal and associational individualizations 
become proportionally evident. 

These organizations or values of cultural content are in their 
nature general and relative as compared with the more discrete and 
directly given cultural material. They are also more definitely 
"mental," more ''psychic." When therefore we find cultures as 
wholes underlying kinship systems we must conclude that the latter 
have each been considerably influenced by the associational complex 
that we may denominate the "psyche" of its culture, that is, the 
ways of thinking and feeling characteristic of the culture. In this 
sense, then, we must recognize the influence, upon systems of kinship 
designation, of factors that, for want of another term, may be called 

Exactly the same conclusions are reached from an examination 
of the subtypes within the central Californian culture. The recog- 
nition within this culture area of a generalized fringe, a more definitely 
organized core, and a highly specialized nucleus in the region of the 
southern Wintun, can be established for the ceremonial aspects of 
religion, for instance, exactly as for kinship systems. The remoter 
and mountain tribes are addicted only to uncorrelated and unspecial- 
ized practices, which nevertheless must be accepted as representing the 
basis of the religion of the entire area. Inside, within the great valley, 
a definite ceremonial organization prevails; and this in turn appears 

382 University of California Puhlications in Am. Aroh. and Ethn. [Vol. 12 

to reach its greatest development, and to have received most of its 
formative impulses, from the peoples near the center of this valley, 
notably the southern Wintun. In the matter of religion, the dis- 
tinctive achievement of the Wintun took the outward form of an 
elaboration ; as regards kinship system, of a simplification. But in 
both the ritualistic elaboration and the terminological simplification 
there is involved a stronger adherence to an ideal scheme, more con- 
sequential carrying out of a consistent set of concepts, more order and 
organization, in short, a more developed revelation of "mental" or 
rather cultural activity. It would be absurd to posit the Wintun 
esoteric religious society and its impersonations of gods as the deter- 
mining cause of the abnormal Wintun system of kinship nomen- 
clature. But it is undeniable that they are parallel manifestations 
of the same manner or degree of ' ' psychic ' ' or civilizational operation 
in culture. 


On the other hand, there are but few clear indications of an 
association, regional or otherwise, between types of kinship systems 
and types of social institutions pure and simple, that is, practices 
connected with marriage, descent, personal relations, and the like ; 
and equally few instances of particular traits of kinship nomenclature 
according with specific institutions. Unfortunately, society is as yet 
perhaps the least understood aspect of the native culture of California. 
But we know something ; and practically all the available information 
points in the direction of the conclusion just stated. 

The Mohave and Luiseiio systems have been seen to be similar. 
Yet the Mohave are organized into clans, whereas among the Luiseno 
there are only halting and somewhat doubtful approaches to clans, 
according to the most recent information secured by Mr. E. W. Gifford. 

In central California a system of hereditary moieties is found 
among the interior Miwok, all the more northerly Yokuts, the western 
Mono, and probably the Salinans; and again in parts of southern 
California. ^^ It may have prevailed among a few other tribes, but 
its further extension can not have been very great. It is not known 
to have existed among the Wintun, Pomo, Yuki, Washo, Northern 
Paiute, or southerly Yokuts. The distribution both of types of kinship 
systems and of special traits of kinship designation fails to agree with 

27 According to information secured by Mr. E. W. Gifford and embodied in 
a paper soon to appear from his pen in the present series of publications. 

1917] Kroeier: California Kinship Systems 383 

the distribution of these moieties. If there were any considerable 
causal correlation, the Miwok should form a unit as against the Wintun, 
the Porno, the Washo, the southern Yokuts, and the other tribes of 
central California; whereas it appears from the previous discussion 
that the relations of these systems are quite otherwise. 

In the northwest, it is difficult to recognize any specific social 
factors that might be correlated with the peculiar system of this 
region, or at least of the Yurok. There is extant for this area Dr. 
Goddard's excellent monograph on the Hupa, and I have undergone 
repeated association with the Yurok themselves, with the opportunity 
of seeing much of their intimate life; yet I cannot name a single 
strictly "social" aspect of their culture which is not closely similar 
to the corresponding institutions of all the other Indians of the state, 
with the lone exception of the fact that northwestern marriage is a 
definite purchase and the wife true property. With the best endeavor 
I cannot, however, devise a satisfying connection between this phe- 
nomenon and the peculiarities of Yurok terminology for relatives. 
It might be said that the purchase obliterates the personality of the 
wife and merges her in the husband, so that the distinction of paternal 
and maternal relatives follows as a consequence. But I cannot wholly 
persuade myself that the Yurok mind works along this channel, even 
in its deepest unconsciousness; and there is the contrary argument 
that if the wife is a chattel and only the husband a person, the dis- 
tinction between the mother and the father, and their respective 
relatives, might be conceived of as being emphasized. 

The parent-in-law taboo is in force over considerable parts of 
central California : among the Yokuts, Miwok, Porno, and presumably 
Southern Wintun, of the groups here treated. It is not practiced 
by the Yurok, Yuki, Tiibatulabal, Kawaiisu, Luisefio, or Mohave, and 
probably not by the Paiute and Washo. The custom might be cor- 
related with the Wintun subtype of kinship system ; but the corre- 
spondence does not seem very exact. 

The taboo of the name of the dead, and of any allusion to them, 
is universal in California, and the various tribes adhere to the ob- 
servance with much the same scrupulousness and emotional intensity ; 
yet devices for avoiding or altering the designations of affinities by 
marriage after the decease of the person connecting them seem to vary 
considerably. Of course such devices ensure only a formal compliance 
with the taboo precept; in substance they can be regarded as just as 
potential for emphasizing the remembrance of the death. In fact. 

384 University of California Publications in Am. Arch, and Ethn. [Vol. 12 

we cannot be sure that such is not their true subconscious function. 
It would seem therefore that such terminological devices may prove 
to be the product of several interacting and perhaps conflicting cul- 
tural attitudes. 

Where customary marriage of relatives prevails, it would seem 
likely to have some influence on kinship systems. This seems to be 
the chief reason for the undoubted correspondences of terminology 
and social practice in certain parts of Australia and Oceania ; exogamy, 
descent, and marriage classes appearing to be involved, whereas a 
theoretically or actually prescribed marriage to certain kindred is the 
true shaping factor. With such marriage, definite and prescribed 
personal or functional relations between non-marrying relatives may 
be associated as a concurrent influence. In California, however, we 
hear very little of specifically determined relations between kindred ; 
and other than the universal levirate, and its reverse, marriage with 
the wife 's sister, the only form of marriage of kindred recorded is 
the cross-cousin wedlock of the Miwok and some neighboring groups. 
Mr. Gifford has shown very convincingly by analysis of circumstantial 
evidence that Miwok cross-cousin marriage, which does not accord 
with the Miwok designations of kindred, is a secondary result of the 
marriage of a man to his wife's brother's daughter. This form of 
marriage, and the marriage of the brother 's widow or the wife 's sister, 
are reflected in Miwok nomenclature to the extent that a dozen kinship 
terms are in thorough accord, in their full range of meanings, with 
each of the practices. It is thus clear that certain forms of what 
might be described as statutory marriage have helped to shape and 
color kinship terms among the Miwok ; and the same condition may 
be expected to prevail among other tribes. 

The marriage to the wife's brother's daughter I am disposed to 
regard as a local modification, under the influence of the moiety 
system, of the widespread Californian custom of marrying the wife's 
daughter. Where there are moieties, the wife's daughter must be 
of the same exogamous division as her stepfather and therefore in- 
eligible to him ; the wife 's cross-niece, that is, her brother 's daughter, 
is the nearest relative available to take her place. Over most of 
California, accordingly, it is marriage to the wife's daughter, the 
wife's sister, and the brother's widow that would have to be examined 
as potential influences upon the kinship system. There are a number 
of indications that this influence has been realized. Such, for instance, 
is the designation of the mother's younger sister and the stepmother 

1917] Kroeber: California Kinship Systems 385 

by a single word. On the whole, however, my material is so much 
less complete than Mr. Gifford's Miwok data, especially in lacking 
most of the remoter meanings of the recorded terms, that any intensive 
examination of the degree of correlation on these points would be 
prematurely unsatisfactory. 

To return once more to general social structure, it is highly prob- 
able that all differences in the formal organization of societj^ are 
superficial in California. Most tribes lack any such formal scheme ; 
and where it exists, as among the Miwok and the Mohave, it rests 
lightly upon the whole cultural fabric. Its points of contact with 
the civilizational complex are few, its impressions of the lightest. 
This is shown by the fact that organizations like that of the Miwok 
remained undiscovered for many years. On a reasonably wide view, 
accordingly, society appears to be substantially the same in type in 
all parts of California ; in contrast with which condition, kinship 
systems display a rather profound diversity. 

In fine, types of kinship classification exhibit so close a distri- 
butional correlation with types of culture as complex wholes, that it 
must be concluded that these cultural wholes have been influential in 
determining the fundamentals of kinship systems. The characteristics 
of such culture wholes consist in associations or relations rather than 
in content ; and it is the formalizing or ' ' psychic ' ' impulses implied 
in these associations or relations that accordingly have largely shaped 
kinship terminology. On the other hand, specific social structure on 
the whole shows very little correlation with kinship classification in 
California. At one or two points a specific element of culture content, 
especially prescribed marriage between relatives, has unquestionably 
affected kinship terminology at specific points, without, however, ap- 
pearing to affect its fundamental plan consequentially. 


Some years ago I tried to substantiate a conviction that the custo- 
mary discrimination between " classificatory " and "descriptive" kin- 
ship systems was erroneous and misleading; that a truer and more 
useful distinction between these two kinds of consanguineal termin- 
ology could be found through a consideration of the differences of 
method employed by various nations in handling certain groups of 

386 University of California Publications in Am. Arch, and Ethn. [Vol. 12 

concepts, in short, through an analysis of psychological factors; and 
that in general such psychological factors were chiefly determinative 
of kinship designations.-* 

This position has been reviewed and combatted by Dr. W. H. R. 
Rivers in his admirable little book. Kinship and Social Organization^-^ 
devoted to the thesis that kinship nomenclature is shaped chiefly by 
social institutions. Nearly every one who has subsequently discussed 
the matter in print has wholly or largely endorsed the view of Dr. 

I must admit that my essay is characterized by some over-state- 
ments. I do not wish and have never wished to maintain so sweeping 
and unqualified a proposition as that terms of relationship reflect 
psychology wholly and sociology not at all. When it is the custom 
among a people for a man to marry his mother's brother's daughter, 
and also the custom for him to call his father-in-law his mother's 
brother, it would be dogmatic and a waste of time to argue against 
the very high probability of the two practices being connected. 

In regard to what may be construed as a retraction, I will only 
urge that the view" which I was criticizing, and which Dr. Rivers has 
come to rescue, had been practically unquestioned for nearly forty 
years, and had attained considerable vogue even outside of specific 
ethnological circles. It had also been held without any real exami- 
nation of the validity of its involved assumptions. That in venturing 
into opposition I was led — in one or two of several recapitulations 
of my position — into an unnecessary curtness of expression, was there- 
fore perhaps natural. What is more to the point, I believe it to be 
a matter of little moment to the real issue. 

The underlying aspects of this issue are touched upon in the last 
paragraph of both Dr. Rivers' essay and mine. In this conclusion 
I deplored the inclination of modern anthropology to "seek specific 
causes for specific events, ' ' and maintained that ' ' causal explanations 
of detached anthropological phenomena can be but rarely found in 
other detached phenomena." Dr. Rivers, on the contrary, affirms 
that kinship nomenclature presents a case "in which the principle of 
determinism applies with a rigor and definiteness equal to that of any 
of the exact sciences. ' ' He avows as his chief object the demonstration 
that the forms of kinship designation have been determined by social 
conditions; and concludes that "only by attention to this aim [deter- 

28 Journ. Eoy. Anthr. Inst., xxxix, 77-84, 1909. 

29 London, Constable & Co., 1914. 

1917] Kroeher: California Kinship Systems 387 

ministic proofs] throughout the whole field of social phenomena can 
we hope to rid sociology of the reproach, so often heard, that it is not 
a science ; only thus can we refute those who go still further and claim 
that it can never be a science." 

Dr. Rivers thus maintains and I deny that social science is a true 
science. If I understand him correctly, he is interested in why things 
are, I primarily in how they are. His steadfast motive is to explain 
social phenomena, whereas I deliberately limit my purpose to char- 
acterizing them. Without a recognition of this diversity of conception 
of the aim, and therefore the method of ethnology, the essential re- 
lation between the views held by Dr. Rivers and myself in regard to 
the comparatively small question of kinship designations can not be 
thoroughly and significantly apprehended. 

From the one point of view, an intrinsic interest inheres in any 
group of social phenomena as such. If they are analyzed, it is chiefly 
that they may be more fully apperceived ; if they are synthesized with 
others, it is because the phenomena themselves become more truly 
known in proportion as their relations to the whole of civilization are 
visible and realized. To the other attitude of investigation, phenomena 
are only a starting point. This method seeks abstractions; it deter- 
mines causes and effects. However frequently it returns to actual 
phenomena, it perpetually uses these only as a ladder by which to 
mount to higher and wider generalizations. Dr. Rivers maintains 
that a non-deterministic ethnology is not science. I do not consider 
an ethnology which professes ability to explain much of culture to be 

On this general distinction of purpose hinge the differences of 
opinion as to kinship terms. From Lewis H. Morgan to Dr. Rivers, 
generic stages of social development or broad principles have been 
sought ; and kinship systems as a rule have been only pegs on which 
to hang theories concerning such stages. Whatever value my paper 
may or may not have had, it did not share this aim, and represents a 
genuine attempt to understand kinship systems as kinship systems. 
The concepts or categories with which the essay operates are not new. 
All of them may be found distinguished, for instance, in the work of 
Dr. Boas. But a systematic and comparative application of them led 
to the recognition that the current divisions of systems into "classi- 
ficatory" and "descriptive" was misleading in that it did not refer 
to the most essential features of our systems as contrasted with those 
of so-called savages. I then attempted to show that a deeper classi- 

388 University of California Publications in Am. Arch, and Ethn. [Vol. 12 

fication, and therefore interpretation, could be based on an analysis 
of the use to which the categories are put by various nations. Right 
or wrong, serviceable or not, this was at least an effort at construction, 
and therefore the essential part of the essay, as appears from the fact 
that three of the four propositions in the summary are devoted to 
this interpretation. It is exceedingly significant that these proposi- 
tions have been entirely ignored by Dr. Rivers, and by nearly every 
one else who has been concerned with the subject ; whereas my fourth 
proposition, which was essentially negative in that the primacy which 
it awarded to psychological over social determinants assailed the cur- 
rent method of utilizing kinship designations for social reconstructions 
— this negative proposition aroused sufficient interest to cause Dr. 
Rivers to devote considerable part of a book to it. I am confident 
that if the main argument of my essay had been the unfolding of a 
theory — a causal hypothesis — instead of an endeavor merely to realize 
phenomena better and facilitate their being understood still more truly 
in the future, it would not have been passed over in silence. 

The particular form which ethnological theorizing has most fre- 
quently taken has been the formulation of schemes of development of 
institutions, with a special predilection for schemes of development 
of those institutions that are concerned with marriage and descent. 
For the elaboration of such schemes, kinship terminologies are plaus- 
ibly promising. And, on the other hand, if kinship terminology does 
not consistently mirror the organization of society, an important 
buttress for such theoretical reconstructions falls. It was logically 
necessary for Dr. Rivers to write Kinship and. Social Organization 
before writing the History of Melanesian Society. If the contention 
that kinship systems are determined by psychological factors is only 
partly correct, one of the most serviceable methods of reconstructing 
former stages of society is eliminated. I can and do without prejudice 
avow sociological determinants beside ' ' psychological ' '^° ones — for that 

30 1 regret the term "psychological," and should use another were it not 
that its avoidance now might seem an evasion of the issue raised by me seven 
years ago, and by some would certainly be construed as an admission that T had 
shifted the basis of my contention. I do not mean, and have never meant, that 
terms of relationship can be explained directly from the constitution of the 
human mind. They are social or cultural phenomena as thoroughly and com- 
pletely as institutions, beliefs, or industries are social phenomena, and I am in 
absolute accord with Dr. Elvers' conviction that social phenomena can be 
understood only through other social phenomena. In common with most anthro- 
pologists, I hold any attempt to derive cultural facts directly from the nature 
of human mentality to be illusory. Culture and all its parts are a content. 
They are framed and limited indeed by mentality. But the endeavor to express 
the nature of the content through the nature of the mechanism of mentality is 
as vain as it would be to explain the quality of a substance in terms of its form. 

1917] Kroeber: California Kinship Systems 389 

matter, economic and religious ones also. Dr. Rivers cannot concede 
"psychological" influences beside his sociological ones, because there- 
with his supposed recording instrument or index becomes inaccurate. 
He is establishing positive determinations of causality, or at least of 
sequence, and cannot admit variable and undeterminable factors into 
his calculations. 

The real question regarding kinship designations therefore is not 
the literal one of whether the terminology is wholly of psychological 
or of institutional origin. Nor does it very seriously concern the 
relative strength of each of these influences as a general proposition. 
It would be as silly to quarrel about that as to argue whether there 
are more flat or more round objects in the world. In such matters 
each case must be considered separately and no principle is involved. 
The true immediate issue is whether kinship terminologies are deter- 
mined so thoroughly by institutions that they can be reliably used to 
construct hypothetical schemes as to institutions, or whether their 
determinants are so frequently non-institutional that they cannot be 

or to approach an understanding of the sense of written words through a study 
of the pen. When, therefore, I spoke and now speak of terms of relationship 
as conditioned by "psychological" factors, I have in mind the sort of factors 
to which a philologist might properly ascribe the presence of a grammatical dual 
in a language. These factors would obviously be comparatively vague and 
abstractable. In a sense they would be characterizable, like everything in 
speech, as directly expressive of a manner of thought — not of course a spon- 
taneous outgrowth of the pure human mind uninscribed by culture, but rather, 
as it were, a more general and conditioning aspect of cultural content. Dr. 
Eivers ' views, on the other hand, I should compare — if I may without prejudice 
use an unflatteringly crude comparison which nevertheless I believe to be true 
in spirit — to the explanation of the grammatical dual in speech as due to the 
prevalence of dualistic philosophy, or the institution of non-pluralistic marriage, 
that is, monogamy. When I state that the use of identical terms for such 
relatives as the father-in-law and grandfather, or the brother-in-law and brother 
in some languages, is to be understood as ' ' due to ' ' the fact that these relation- 
ships possess several categories of kinship in common, this abstract similarity 
is obviously not the ultimate or whole cause, since this interpretation leaves 
unexplained the fact that in most languages these relationships are denoted by 
distinct terms. That one language employs certain categories of kinship classi- 
fication and slights others, and another language employs and slights different 
ones, is itself obviously a cultural or social phenomenon; but it is precisely 
these varying tendencies of languages and nations toward the use of the cate- 
gories that I denominate "psychological" factors. Perhaps "sociological" 
would have been a better word, though probably liable to misinterpretation in 
other ways. If Dr. Eivers or any one else can replace my "psychological" 
with a less elusive term, I shall be sincerely grateful to him. Meanwhile I can 
only continue to use the word, and trust that what is here said in regard to its 
significance will be sufficient to prevent confusion, and to relieve me of the 
suspicion of wishing to revert to the methods of mid-Victorian ethnologists. — 
The words "social" and "sociological" are also capable of two constructions. 
In the wider sense, of course, they are equivalent to "cultural" or "civil- 
izational. " In the sense in which Dr. Rivers uses them, or I employ them in 
discussing his views, their significance is much narrower, and they are sub- 
stantially equivalent to "institutional," with prime reference to marriage, laws 
of descent, and personal functions. 

390 University of California Piiblications m Am. Arch, and Ethn. [Vol. 12 

utilized in such endeavors. And behind this lies the larger ultimate 
question whether specific social phenomena of any kind can be assigned 
as the sole specific causes or "determining" causes of other social 
phenomena; or whether the nearest possible approach to "explaining" 
phenomena such as kinship systems lies in tracing the features of the 
involved "psychic" or cultural activities common to them and other 

On the immediate problem, indications that influences other than 
social institutions enter into kinship nomenclature have already been 
presented in various parts of the descriptions and analyses of specific 
California systems that constitute the first and larger portion of the 
present paper. In the section devoted to a classification of these 
systems, further instances of the frequent dominance of "psycholog- 
ical ' ' over narrowly social determinants have been adduced, as well as 
some evidence that the shaping influences are generic impulses rather 
than specific phenomena, so that the ultimate question may also be 
considered as answered. 

The case seems therefore established on the basis of concrete data 
which need not be recited; but it may be worth while to add some 
broader considerations. 

1. In the first place, the obvious fact that we approach kinship 
systems through the terminologies in which they are expressed con- 
stitutes them a part of speech, and it is therefore impossible to under- 
stand how the serious claim can be advanced that they should be 
withdrawn entirely from subjection to those psychological and lin- 
guistic influences which shape all language. All words necessarily 
classify according to certain principles which usually are not more 
than half conscious. There is no conceivable reason why terms of 
relationship should be an exception, and no evidence that they are. 
When we find that one nation frequently introduces the idea of the 
sex of the speaker into its kinship terminology and another nation 
fails entirely to do so, it is obvious that their classifications have been 
made according to a different conceptual principle ; or, to put it other- 
wise, that the involved psychology^^ is different. Now it is of course 
possible to meet this situation with the explanation that the psychology 
itself indeed differs, but that it diverges exclusively under the influence 
of social institutions. This attitude is certainly logically possible, but 
I think it will be generally granted that it is such an extreme attitude 

31 The word ' ' psychology " is to be understood in the sense discussed in 
note 30. 

1917] Kroeher: California Kinship Systems 391 

that the probability of its universal or even general truth is slight, and 
that the burden of proof is clearly upon those who hold this view. 

We have in English the curious habit of designating an oyster or 
a lobster as a "shell fish." The word "fish" unquestionably calls 
up a concept of a smooth, elongated, free-swimming water animal with 
fins. The only conceivable reason why a flat and sessile mollusk with- 
out any of the appendages of a fish, or a legged and crawling animal 
of utterly different appearance, should be brought in terminology into 
the class of fishes is the fact that they both live in the water and are 
edible. Now these two qualities are only a small part of those which 
attach to the generic concept that the word ' ' fish ' ' carries in English ; 
and yet the wide discrepancy has not prevented the inclusion of the 
two other animals under the term. All speech is full of just such 
examples, and no one dreams of explaining the multitudinous phe- 
nomena of this kind by reference to social institutions, former phil- 
osophies, or other formulated manifestations of non-linguistic life, 
or of reconstructing the whole of a society from a vocabulary. Such 
endeavors in "linguistic palaeontology" have indeed been made; but 
the general consensus is that while they undoubtedly contain some 
truth, they are on the whole of little value because the interaction of 
social and linguistic influences is too indeterminate, and each of these 
sets of influences too variable, to allow of any positive conclusions 
being attained except possibly now and then on special points. 

If, for instance, it were argued that English classes the oyster and 
lobster with fish, and that other languages, perhaps German and 
Chinese, class them with turtles, because the English are an insular 
nation that subsists on an abundance of sea food, whereas the Germans 
and Chinese are essentially inland peoples, the explanation would 
strike nearly every one as extremely far-fetched. In addition, the 
conflicting contention could be set up that a maritime and fish-eating 
people could be expected to be far more discriminating in their desig- 
nation of sea animals than an interior people. It seems to me that 
some of the explanations of kinship systems on the basis of social 
custom are substantially of a type with this example. 

2. It is extremely important to guard against subjective selection 
of interpretation in a field of such delicate refinement as kinship 
nomenclature. When among ourselves a minister of religion or a 
socialist orator addresses his audience as "brothers" we say that the 
speakers are indulging in metaphor. When we refer to our brother-in- 
law as "brother" we are merely slovenly familiar or intimately in- 

392 University of California Publications in Am. Aroh. and Etlm. [Vol. 12 

correct. On the other hand, when a so-called savage names his father's 
brother ' ' father, ' ' we immediately tend to have recourse to the levirate 
as explanation ; when he designates his cousin as ' ' brother, ' ' we think 
of this as a survival of group marriage ; and when he calls the members 
of his clan ' ' brothers, ' ' we are inclined to assert that in his nation the 
family of blood kindred is entirely merged in clan organization. We 
forget too often that uncivilized people are as likely as we to indulge 
in figures of speech and in short-cuts of expression. They would be 
very inhuman if they did not. But, of course, the more we can reduce 
them to the level of machines, automatically operating according to a 
few simple principles, the more convenient do they become as an 
instrument with which to unravel theoretical speculations. 

3. An influence that is wholly terminological, and therefore at once 
"psychological" and linguistic, is the impulse toward reciprocal de- 
notation or form of kinship terms. It is evident on wholly abstract 
grounds that this must materially affect the systems into which it 
enters. The moment a term implies sex and has an exact reciprocal, 
it is clear that the reciprocal must express the sex of the speaker, and 
not that of the relative, so that a variant principle is introduced ; or 
else both terms must denote both categories, which means that the 
number of distinct terms is duplicated or quadruplicated. The latter 
is a result that most languages evidently shrink from, and the former 
course is usually followed. In either case, however, there is a distinct 
shaping of the system as a result of the reciprocating tendency. 

When a Papago, whose system is thoroughly pervaded by reci- 
procities, has words meaning ' ' older brother or sister ' ' and ' ' younger 
brother or sister," which are reciprocal, instead of our non-reciprocal 
"brother" and "sister," it is as clear that this part of his nomen- 
clature reflects the "psychological" tendency toward reciprocity, as 
that terming the father-in-law "mother's brother" reflects a social 
institution when it is customary to marry a cross-cousin. 

The use of descriptive phrases instead of radical words to denote 
connections by marriage is again a "psychological" trait. In French, 
the son-in-law and daughter-in-law are denoted by distinctive stems, 
the parents-in-law by circumlocutory ones analogous to those of Eng- 
lish. German follows the English plan, except for retaining some 
obsolescent radicals. The same tendency has become operative in all 
three languages, but with varying degrees of completeness. This is 
simply a philological phenomenon entirely parallel to the fact that 
the plural of " ox " has remained ' ' oxen ' ' instead of becoming ' ' oxes. ' ' 

1917] Kroeher: California Kinship Systems 393 

No one would dream of arguing that French, English, or German 
marital customs must be different because the kinship terms in question 
are formed on a different plan. And so when Luiseiio and Northern 
Paiute and Papago use circumlocutory expressions for many connec- 
tions by marriage, and Mohave and Yokuts and Tiibatulabal and 
Miwok do not, there is also a distinctive difference of system without 
any reason for an assumption of a corresponding difference in social 

This influence of reciprocity is particularly clear when circumlo- 
cutions and reciprocal expression are combined. A Papago woman 
calls her son-in-law moih-ok, that is, ok or father of her mos, a woman 's 
daughter's child. The son-in-law calls her the same. There is no 
form of marriage or social institution that will explain why an old 
woman should be called the father of anybody's granddaughter, why 
the man referring to her should speak of himself as a female, and why 
he should designate her the parent of his daughter's child when it is 
her daughter that has the child and he himself is without grand- 
children. It is clear that there is nothing at the bottom of this usage 
but a strong tendency to call a connection what the connection calls 
oneself, operating upon a stock of descriptive terms. There is no 
inconvenience or confusion in speaking of one 's mother-in-law as some- 
body 's father ; for in doing so a man uses a woman 's term ; which 
combination, by exclusion, exactly specifies the lady referred to. From 
our literal point of view, the Papago is absurdly illogical in this matter. 
But he is practical, since his procedure not only isolates the person 
in question as thoroughly as ours but allows him to employ the reci- 
procity to which he is accustomed and which satisfies a habitual psychic 

4. In most discussions of kinship systems the innermost kernel is 
hardly touched upon. Relatives only one step removed are neglected 
for those two and three steps distant. We hear much of the fact that 
cousins are called brothers, but little of the entirely different methods 
of distinguishing brothers. A great deal is made of the circumstance 
that the father's brother is often merged in the father, terminologi- 
cally, but very little attention is paid to whether parents are desig- 
nated by four terms or by two or by one. The mother's brother's 
daughter is far more important in most kinship discussions than the 
sister. In short, the most fundamental and primary relationships are 
disregarded because the remote ones lend themselves to readier cor- 
relation with social institutions. Some nations have one word for 

394 University of California Publications in Am. Arch, and Ethn. [Vol. 12 

older brother-sister and one for younger brother-sister; others one 
word for brother-sister of the same sex as the speaker and one for 
brother-sister of different sex ; and still others one word for male and 
one for female brother-sister; in short, various peoples express re- 
spectively only age, relative sex, and absolute sex in this class of kin- 
ship ; while still others express them in different degrees and combi-. 
nations. Surely if there is anything of consequence in kinship it is 
these nearest of relationships, and diversity of terminological classi- 
fication is as extreme for them as for any other group of kindred. 
Yet because they do not lend themselves to theoretical reconstructions 
of marriage systems, they have been passed over in almost complete 
silence. Dr. Rivers is therefore more sanguine than accurate when 
he states in the conclusion of his book that not only the general char- 
acter but every detail of systems of relationship has been demon- 
strated as determined by social conditions. The parts of systems that 
correlate with social conditions have indeed been correlated by him ; 
but those parts that do not correlate have for the most part not even 
been considered. 

5. Finally, it is not only theoretically conceivable but an actual 
fact that terminology has at times influenced marriage institutions. 
This is as it should be, for in the wider sense of the word terminology is 
as much a social phenomenon as marriage, and an a priori denial that 
any class of social phenomena is capable of affecting any other class 
is certainly unjustifiable. In Roman Catholic nations, as Andrew 
Lang has pointed out, the god-father does not marry the god-daughter. 
Here there is no kinship at all ; but the mere name has resulted in a 
taboo of wedlock. If civilized European people can take their meta- 
phors so seriously as this, it is likely that rude heathens represented 
as living in a world of symbolism have sometimes done so. 

It may be suspected, for instance, that the Chinese prohibition of 
marriage between persons of the same family name is due to a similar 
secondary scrupulousness, instead of being a survival of an ancient 
clan system, as it is customary to state. Of course what is wanted 
in a situation like this one is not a conviction that this or that inter- 
pretation is true, but a substantiated case made out by a sinologue 
who commands knowledge of his subject as well as critical faculty. 
Yet the instance is not without suggestiveness as it stands. 

It is perfectly true that every one should expect customs to shape 
names more frequently than names shape customs. Those who are 
ready to recognize a variety of factors as entering into terminology 

1917] Kroeber: California Kinship Systems 395 

can admit this disproportion cheerfully. But those who are bound 
to schemes of rigorous and exclusive explanation through social insti- 
tutions can not permit the introduction of even the rarer instances 
of priority of terminology without fatally dulling the edge of their 
working tool. 

If the issue were primarily the narrower one of the preeminence 
of so-called psychological and so-called social influences on kinship 
systems, I should still lay more stress on the former influence, because, 
after all, kinship systems are terminologies, terminologies are classi- 
fications, and classifications are reflections of "psychological" pro- 
cesses — just as I should expect religious phenomena to be influenced 
chiefly by other religious phenomena and only in a lesser degree by 
social, economic, or technical factors. I also construe the evidence as 
actually bearing out this interpretation. Yet I am ready to concede 
freely that ''social" influences — and religious and economic ones — 
have entered in some measure into kinship systems, at times to a 
considerable degree even. But back of this aspect of the problem 
lies the basic issue : whether kinship terminology is determined rigidly 
by specific social phenomena of only one kind, and can therefore be 
utilized for constructive causal explanations of societies; or whether 
all classes of social phenomena can and do interact on such termin- 
ology, and the infinitely variable play of the variable factors forbids 
any true determinations of causality of a sweeping character. Two 
irreconcilable methods of prosecuting ethnology and history here con- 
front each other. It is the magnitude of this conflict of ideals that 
gives some dignity and perhaps consequence to the question of kinship 
terminology, which otherwise would be but a technical if not a trivial 

I am aware that the causal and deterministic method has in its 
favor the appearance of far greater productivity, and that it often 
tempts with immediate proflt. It can give the public the hard and 
fast formulations and the definitely final reasons for which the public 
hungers. It is also assured of a warmer recognition from scientists — 
natural scientists — who, unable to follow each historical situation in 
detail, tend nevertheless to see in this method a welcome extension of 
their tried methods to new fields. 

But I am convinced as I am of few things that this method as it 
has been and is practiced in ethnology is vain; that its results are 
illusory in proportion as they are plausible ; and if ever cultural 
phenomena are subject to causal and deterministic analysis, it will 

396 University of California Publications in Am. Arch, and Ethn. [Vol. 12 

be in ways and with results utterly different from the methods and 
conclusions in vogue today. It is from this conception that I have 
approached the problem ; and ungratefully negative as the conclusions 
may seem, I believe that the evidence bears them out. 

Dr. Rivers has rendered service to ethnology paralleled by few 
men. He has made valuable contributions to the critical methods of 
recording material. He has amassed noteworthy data, and has boldly 
and imaginatively attacked them without recourse to interpretation 
by physical and organic factors, and steeled himself no less against 
the more insidious temptation to explain culture in immediate terms 
of spontaneous psychology. There are those who wish that he might 
return to the path so brilliantly blazoned in the earlier Todas rather 
than continue in that pursued in the History of Melanesian Society. 
But all students of ethnology, those who differ as well as they who agree 
with his arguments, must be grateful to him for the consistency of 
his presentation, his courage, the directness with which he has met 
problems, and the precision with which he has defined them. In the 
present question the ultimate verdict must be left to others : I shall 
be satisfied if I have helped to clear the issue to the same degree on 
one side as Dr. Rivers has cleared it on the other. 

Transmitted October 11, 1916. 


Vol. 7. 1. The Emeryville Shellmound, by Max Uhle. Pp. 1-106, plates 1-12, with 

38 text figures. June, 1907 ..._ „.. _ _ 1.26 

2. Eecent Investigations bearing upon the Question of the Occurrence of 

Neocene Man in the Auriferous Gravels of California, by William 

J. Sinclair. Pp. 107-130, plates 13-14. February, 1908 „ .36 

3. Porno Indian Basketry, by S. A. Barrett. Pp. 133-306, plates 15-30, 

231 text figures. December, 1908 .._ _ „.. 1.76 

4. Shellmounds of the San Francisco Bay Eegion, by N. 0. Nelson. 

Pp. 309-356, plates 32-34. December, 1909 .60 

5. The Ellis Landing Shellmound, by N. 0. Nelson. Pp. 357-426, plates 

36-50. April, 1910 .78 

Index, pp. 427-443. 
Vol. 8. 1. A Mission Eecord of the California Indians, from a Manuscript la the 

Bancroft Library, by A. L. Kroeber. Pp. 1-27. May, 1908 ..... .26 

2. The Ethnography of the Cahuilla Indians, by A. L. Kroeber. Pp. 29- 

68, plates 1-15. July, 1908 , .76 

3. The Eeligion of the Luisenio and Dieguefio Indians of Southern Cali- 

foniia, by Constance Goddard Dubois. Pp. 69-186, plates 16-19. 
June, 1908 1.26 

4. The Culture of the Luisefio Indians, by Philip Stedman Sparkman, 

Pp. 187-234, plate 20. August, 1908 : _ .60 

6. Notes on Shoshonean Dialects of Southern California, by A. L. Kroe- 
ber. Pp. 235-269. September, 1909 „ M 

6. The Eellgious Practices of the Dieguefio Indians, by T. T. Waterman. 

Pp. 271-358, plates 21-28. March, 1910 80 

Index, pp. 359-369, 
Vol. 9. 1. Tana Texts, by Edward Sapir, together with Yana Myths collected by 

Eoland B. Dixon. Pp. 1-235. February, 1910 2.50 

2. The Chumash and Costanoan Languages, by A. L, Kroeber. Pp. 237- 

271. November, 1910 ^ ^ 85 

3. The Languages of the Coast of California North of San Francisco, by 

A. L. Kroeber. Pp. 273-435, and map. April, 1911 1.60 

Index, pp. 437-439. 
VoL 10. 1. Phonetic Constituents of the Native Languages of California, by A. 

L. Kroeber. Pp. 1-12. May, 1911 10 

2. The Phonetic Elements of the Northern Palute Language, by T. T, 

Waterman. Pp. 13-44, plates 1-5. November, 1911 46 

3. Phonetic Elements of the Mohave Language, by A. L. E^Toeber. Pp. 

45-96, plates 6-20. November, 1911 ~ .66 

4. The Ethnology of the Salinan Indians, by J. Alden Mason. Pp. 97- 

240, plates 21-37. December, 1912 ~ 1.76 

5. Papago Verb Stems, by Juan Dolores. Pp. 241-263. August, 1913 25 

6. Notes on the Chilula Indians of Northwestern California, by Pliny 

Earl Goddard. Pp. 265-288, plates 38-41. April, 1914 — . .30 

7. Chilula Texts, by Pliny Earle Goddard. Pp. 289-379. November, 

1914 _ .- 1.00 

Index, pp. 381-385. 
Vol. 11. 1. Elements of the Kato Language, by Pliny Earle Goddard. Pp. 1-176, 

plates 1-45, October, 1912 2.00 

2. Phonetic Elements of the Dieguefio Language, by A. L. Kroeber and 

J. P. Harrington. Pp. 177-188. April, 1914 „ 10 

3. Sarsi Texts, by Pliny Earle Goddard, Pp. 189-277. February, 1915 — 1.00 

4. Serian, Tequistlatecan, and Hokan, by A. L. Kroeber. Pp. 279-290. 

February, 1915 .10 

6. Dlchotomous Social Organization in South Central California, by Ed- 
ward Winslow Gifford. Pp. 291-296. February, 1916 05 

6. The Delineation of the Day-Signs in the Aztec Manuscripts, by T. T. 

Waterman. Pp. 297-398. March, 1916 : 1.00 

7. The Mutsun Dialect of Costanoan Based on the Vocabulary of De la 

Cuesta, by J. Alden Mason. Pp. 399-472. March, 1916 70 

Index, pp. 473-479. 
VoL 12. 1. Composition of California Shellmounds, by Edward Winslow Gifford. 

Pp. 1-29. February, 1916 30 

2. California Place Names of Indian Origin, by A. L. Kroeber. Pp. 

31-69. June, 1916 40 

3. Arapaho Dialects, by A. L. Kroeber. Pp. 71-138. June, 1916 70 

4. Miwok Moieties, by Edward Winslow Gifford. Pp. 139-194. June, 

1916 55 

5. On Plotting the Inflections of the Voice, by Cornelius B. Bradley. Pp. 

195-218, plates 1-5. October, 1916 25